Non-Consequentialist Voting

Moses Shayo and Alon Harel

Standard theory assumes that voters' preferences over actions (voting) are induced by their preferences over electoral outcomes (policies, candidates). But voters may also have non-consequentialist (NC) motivations: they may care about how they vote even if it does not a¤ect the outcome. When the likelihood of being pivotal is small, NC motivations can dominate voting behavior. To examine the prevalence of NC motivations, we design an experiment that exogenously varies the probability of being pivotal yet holds constant other features of the decision environment. We find a significant e¤ect, consistent with at least 12.5% of subjects being motivated by NC concerns.

April, 2010
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