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Expert Reaction: Can the days of the week influence voting decisions?

Posted on 8 June 2017

Dr Rob Jenkins and PhD student, Jet Sanders, from the University of York's Department of Psychology, have analysed a range of statistics to get a better understanding of whether the timing of our decisions has a link to the risks we take. They comment here on the forthcoming UK general election vote:

Jet Sanders said: “It is common knowledge that we feel different on different weekdays. This affects our choices. For example, people are more likely to go to the pub on a Friday than midweek. But on what weekday is a bank most likely robbed? Or a country most likely voted to independence?

“All these choices depend on taking risks, and my research shows that risk taking changes across weekdays.

“In all studies, risk taking decreased from Monday to Thursday – where we become most cautious – reverting to original risk levels on Friday. Surprisingly, the outcomes of such important decisions depend on the day on which they are taken.

"When in the week an election is held could even determine its outcome.”

Referendum vote

Dr Jenkins said: “In both referendums, polls revealed a shift to the right on Thursday. In the Scottish Independence Referendum, this effect boosted the 'No' campaign by around three per cent. In the EU referendum, it boosted the 'Leave' campaign by about three per cent.”

"Polling data from a country that votes on a different day of the week would be interesting to compare. For example, American elections are traditionally held on Tuesday, which was a less risk-averse day than Thursday in our study.”

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