The Predictive Power of Subjective Probability Questions

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This paper evaluates the predictive validity of stated intentions for actual behaviour.
In the context of the 2017 Dutch parliamentary election, we compare how well polls
based on probabilistic and deterministic questions line up with subsequent votes. Our empirical strategy is built around a randomised experiment in a representative panel. Respondents were either simply asked which party they will vote for, or were asked to allocate probabilities of voting for each party. The results show that for the large majority of the respondents, probabilities predict individual behaviour better than deterministic statements. There is, however, substantial heterogeneity in the predictive power of the subjective probabilities. We find evidence that they work better for those with higher probability numeracy, even though probability numeracy was measured eight years earlier.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages47
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • subjective probabilities
  • predictive validity
  • probabilistic polling
  • elections


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