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Do Altruistic Preferences Matter for Voting Outcomes?

Publication: ResearchJournal article

Extensive evidence has shown that some people vote for altruistic reasons while others vote for selsh reasons. This paper analyzes how altruistic preferences matter for voting outcomes. To this end, a Danish survey is conducted (n = 2000) where respondents are asked to identify (1) the party they would vote for if elections were held tomorrow, (2) the party they would vote for if they only were to consider what is best for themselves, and (3) the party they would vote for if they were to consider what is best for society as a whole. Differences in where individuals cast their altruistic, selsh and actual votes are analyzed by locating the Danish political parties in a political compass. Altruistic preferences are found to drive votes to the left and away from extreme candidates. A smaller U.S. survey on the 2016 presidential candidates (n = 400) yields similar results. The results suggest that political candidates may be able to increase their vote share by capitalizing on the duality of voting behavior and in uencing whether voters vote selshly or altruistically.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorking Paper
StateSubmitted - 2017

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