Memetics & Voting: How Nature May Make us Public Spirited
We consider the classic puzzle of why people turn out for elections in substantial numbers even though formal analysis strongly suggests that rational agents would not vote. If one assumes that voters do not make systematic mistakes, the most plausible explanation seems to be that agents receive a warm glow from the act of voting itself.ÊÊ However, this begs the question of why agents feel a warm glow from participating in the electoral process in the first place. We approach this question from an memetic standpoint. More specifically, we consider a model in which social norms, ideas, values, or more generally, "memes" influence the behavior of groups of agents, and in turn, induce a kind of competition between value systems. We show for a range of situations that groups with a more public-spirited social norm have an advantage over groupsÊ that are not as public-spirited. We also explore conditions under which the altruistic behavior resulting from public-spiritedness is disadvantageous. The details depend on the costs of voting, the extent to which different types of citizens agree or disagree over the benefits of various public policies, and the relative proportions of various preference types in the population. We conclude that memetic evolution over social norms may be a force that causes individuals to internalize the benefits that their actions confer on others.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html |
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jack Hirshleifer, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," UCLA Economics Working Papers 087, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Jack Hirshleifer, 1978. "Natural Economy Versus Political Economy," UCLA Economics Working Papers 129, UCLA Department of Economics.
- repec:att:wimass:9612 is not listed on IDEAS
- Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
- Lagunoff, Roger, 2000.
"On the Evolution of Pareto-Optimal Behavior in Repeated Coordination Problems,"
International Economic Review,
Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(2), pages 273-93, May.
- Roger Lagunoff, 1997. "On the Evolution of Pereto Optimal Behavior in Repeated Coordination Problems," Game Theory and Information 9707003, EconWPA.
- Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998.
"Learning in Games,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
2222, David K. Levine.
- Eshel, Ilan & Samuelson, Larry & Shaked, Avner, 1998. "Altruists, Egoists, and Hooligans in a Local Interaction Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 157-79, March.
- Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-26, September.
- Eshel, I. & Samuelson, L. & Shaked, A., 1996.
"Altruists, Egoists and Hooligans in a Local Interaction Model,"
9612r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Harbaugh, W T, 1996.
" If People Vote Because They Like to, Then Why Do So Many of Them Lie?,"
Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 63-76, October.
- William T. Harbaugh, 1996. "If people vote because they like to, then why do so many of them lie?," Public Economics 9606002, EconWPA.
- John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
- Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
- Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
- DeMichelis, Stefano & Dhillon, Amrita, 2001. "Learning in elections and voter turnout equilibria," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 608, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Hirshleifer, Jack, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-52, April.
- Bolle, Friedel, 2000. "Is altruism evolutionarily stable? And envy and malevolence?: Remarks on Bester and Guth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 131-133, May.
- Friedman, Daniel, 1991. "Evolutionary Games in Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 637-66, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0514. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John P. Conley)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.