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The Neuroeconomics of Voting: Neural Evidence of Different Sources of Utility in Voting

Author

Listed:
  • Ivo Bischoff

    () (University of Kassel)

  • Carolin Neuhaus

    () (University of Bonn)

  • Peter Trautner

    () (University of Bonn)

  • Bernd Weber

    () (University of Bonn)

Abstract

Which motives drive the decision of a voter to approve or reject a policy proposal? The Public Choice literature distinguishes between instrumental and expressive voting motives. We investigate the importance of these motives by analysing the patterns of neural activity in different voting situations. We conduct an fMRI-experiment which investigates neural activation at the moment of voting and use the altruism scale proposed by Tankersley et al. (2007) to differentiate between altruists and non-altruists. Non-altruists show neural activation patterns that are consistent with expressive voting motives. Among non-altruists, we also find activation patterns that point at egoistic instrumental motives. Both results are in line with the corresponding Public Choice literature. On the other hand, we find no evidence for expressive voting motives among altruists. Their neural activation pattern is generally much less conclusive with respect to the underlying motives.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivo Bischoff & Carolin Neuhaus & Peter Trautner & Bernd Weber, 2012. "The Neuroeconomics of Voting: Neural Evidence of Different Sources of Utility in Voting," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201234, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  • Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201234
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    File URL: https://www.uni-marburg.de/fb02/makro/forschung/magkspapers/34-2012_bischoff.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
    2. Shayo, Moses & Harel, Alon, 2012. "Non-consequentialist voting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 299-313.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:103:y:2009:i:02:p:175-192_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    5. Hong, Chew Soo & Konrad, Kai A, 1998. "Bandwagon Effects and Two-Party Majority Voting," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 165-172, May-June.
    6. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Voting when money and morals conflict: an experimental test of expressive voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1645-1664, July.
    7. Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    8. Carter, John R & Guerette, Stephen D, 1992. "An Experimental Study of Expressive Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 251-260, April.
    9. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    10. Chorvat, Terrence, 2007. "Tax Compliance and the Neuroeconomics of Intertemporal Substitution," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 60(3), pages 577-588, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ivo Bischoff & Thomas Krauskopf, 2013. "Motives of pro-social behavior in individual versus collective decisions – a comparative experimental study," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201319, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting behavior; expressive voting; instrumental voting; political decision making; charitable donation; neuroscience; neuroeconomics; neuropolitical; fMRI;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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