Social preferences and political participation

Christopher T. Dawes, Peter John Loewen, James H. Fowler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Models of political participation have begun to incorporate actors who possess "social preferences." However, these models have failed to take into account the potentially incongruent political goals of different social preference types. These goals are likely to play an important role in shaping political behavior. To examine the effect of distinct social preferences on political activity we conducted an experiment in which participants played five rounds of a modified dictator game (Andreoni and Miller 2002). We used the decisions in these games to determine their preference type and mapped these types to reported political activity. Our results show that subjects who were most interested in increasing total welfare in the dictator game were more likely to participate in politics than subjects with selfish preferences, whereas subjects most interested in reducing the difference between their own well-being and the well-being of others were no more likely to participate than subjects with selfish preferences.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)845-856
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Politics
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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