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University of Iowa News Release


July 13, 2007

Redlawsk Wins Award For Book Examining Voter Decisions

Understanding how voters find and process information and how they eventually decide on a candidate is the focus of an award-winning book by David P. Redlawsk, associate professor of political science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Redlawsk was honored this month with the Alexander George Book Award from the International Society for Political Psychology for his 2006 work "How Voters Decide: Information Processing During Election Campaigns," co-authored by Richard R. Lau of Rutgers University and published by Cambridge University Press.

The award recognizes the best book published in the past year in the field of political psychology, which according to Redlawsk approaches questions of politics using psychological theories, such as the processes underlying individual decision-making strategies.

"Most political scientists assume that the more information voters have the better off they are, and that voters ought to learn everything they can about all the candidates so they can make a good decision," he said. "Our research and this book suggest that's just not true; that in fact, there's such a thing as too much information."

Individual voters make a better decision when they find the candidate who is closest to them on the two or three key issues they care most about, Redlawsk said.

"We're going against the grain in political science because we argue that voters don't necessarily need to know everything about a candidate," he said. "Because more isn't always better, campaigns should focus on identifying the key candidate attributes that voters are looking for."

With more than a dozen candidates from both major parties currently running for president in 2008, Redlawsk said voters and the media are facing "information overload" and are having difficulty learning what they need to know. Once caucuses and primaries begin, each party's nominee is likely to be determined quickly as a result, he said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

CONTACTS: Media: Nicole Riehl, 319-384-0070,; Writer: Joe Nugent