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The Probability of a Cyclical Majority

The Econometric Society
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Consider a committee or society attempting to order the alternatives (X_1, X_2, X_3) by use of majority rule. Each individual is assumed to have a strong ordering (called a profile) on the alternatives. "Indifference" is not a property of the profiles. The committee is said to "prefer" X_i to X_j, denoted X_iCX_j if X_i is preferred to X_j on a majority of the individual profiles. It is well known that if certain individual profiles are chosen, the resulting "social ordering" may be cyclical, i.e., X_iCX_j, X_jCX_k, X_kCX_i. Such a result is called a "cycle."

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