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What Motivates People to Vote? The Role of Selfishness, Duty, and Social Motives When Voting

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  • Valentina A. Bali
  • Lindon J. Robison
  • Richard Winder

Abstract

This study assesses the relative importance and explanatory power of five fundamental psychological motives for voting. Using United States survey data, we analyze self-reports on the motives of selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, and social approval in relation to turnout. These motives have precedents in the literature, but they have not yet been evaluated simultaneously. We find that altruism and duty are the most important reported motives for turnout accounting for more than 60% of the allocations; selfish motives account for only about 15%. Turnout behavior responds positively to the motives of duty, altruism, and belonging, but it is dampened by the motive of selfishness. Turning out to vote emerges as an activity largely shaped by an individual’s social concerns and values.

Suggested Citation

  • Valentina A. Bali & Lindon J. Robison & Richard Winder, 2020. "What Motivates People to Vote? The Role of Selfishness, Duty, and Social Motives When Voting," SAGE Open, , vol. 10(4), pages 21582440209, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:sagope:v:10:y:2020:i:4:p:2158244020950376
    DOI: 10.1177/2158244020950376
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    References listed on IDEAS

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