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

  • Ivo Bischoff

    ()

    (University of Kassel)

  • Carolin Neuhaus

    ()

    (University of Bonn)

  • Peter Trautner

    ()

    (University of Bonn)

  • Bernd Weber

    ()

    (University of Bonn)

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.

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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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Paper provided by Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung) in its series MAGKS Papers on Economics with number 201234.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in
Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201234
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  1. Moses Shayo & Alon Harel, 2010. "Non-Consequentialist Voting," Discussion Paper Series dp545, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  2. Chew, S.H. & Konrad, K.A., 1992. "Bandwagon Effects in Two-Party Majority Voting," Papers 90-92-14, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  3. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
  4. Jean-Robert Tyran, 2002. "Voting when Money and Morals Conflict - An Experimental Test of Expressive Voting," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-07, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  5. Carter, John R & Guerette, Stephen D, 1992. " An Experimental Study of Expressive Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 251-60, April.
  6. Shayo, Moses & Harel, Alon, 2012. "Non-consequentialist voting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 299-313.
  7. 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 1447-58, December.
  8. Chorvat, Terrence, 2007. "Tax Compliance and the Neuroeconomics of Intertemporal Substitution," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(3), pages 577-88, September.
  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. 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.
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