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Definition: Psephology

Psephology is the sociological and statistical study of political elections. It is the science of opinion pools or opinion sampling and studies the trends in voting in elections. The word is derived from the Greek work psephos which means pebbles, because pebbles were used to cast a vote by the citizens of Athens.

Psephology uses historical voting data, information from campaigns, information from public opinion polls and similar statistical data. So, essentially, it is the branch of political science that deals with the analysis of past elections. A person who conducts these studies is called a psephologist. Psephology involves market research (about election data) and data analysis. Psephology has a high profile because of the importance it carries and the considerable amount of public interest that is shown. It is high profile also because it deals with large amounts of quantitative data unlike other studies.

It deals with aspects of elections like how people vote or how people intend to vote; whether their votes change over time and if yes, why; and any other patterns of behaviour, etc. There are different models to determine the patterns of voting behaviour in individuals and what motivates a voter to make his/her choice. The extremities of this behaviour are accounted by two models namely the party identification model and the rational choice model. The former explains that the reason for a vote to be cast is only the party name and the latter suggests that the voter makes an informed choice after his analysis of which party is better. There might be other theories which lie in between these two extremities.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Psephology along with its overview.

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