Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Voting Behavior

What role does altruism play in voting behavior?

Other researchers have suggested that altruism plays a role in voter turnout. In an experimental manipulation called “the dictator game,” subjects are given money and told to share it with another person who will not know their name. In a 2007 study by James Fowler and Cindy Kam, people who shared their money were significantly more likely to vote than those who did not. Moreover, Richard Jankowski found that people who agreed with altruistic statements were more likely to have voted in the 1994 elections. Perhaps altruism is related to a sense of social commitment, specifically to a sense of connection to the social group and a feeling of responsibility for its well-being. Additionally, we can speculate that altruism may have some genetic component, perhaps accounting for the apparent genetic influence on voter turnout.


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