What motivates bandwagon voting behavior: Altruism or a desire to win?

Rebecca B. Morton, Kai Ou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper surveys the literature on psychological and strategic mental processes of bandwagon behavior, discusses the literature of bandwagon behavior in the context of the two different types, bandwagon vote choices and bandwagon abstention effects, and examines the rationality of other-regarding bandwagon vote choices. Key experimental results are reported to investigate the extent that bandwagon behavior can be explained by other-regarding preferences in contrast to a psychological desire to simply support a winner. We find support for purely psychological non-other-regarding bandwagon behavior but primarily when subjects have information about the distribution of voter choices in previous elections but individual choices are private. Interestingly, when voting is public this type of bandwagon behavior disappears and bandwagon behavior that could be other-regrading is much higher. Given that observability increases other-regarding behavior in other contexts, our results suggest that some of the observed bandwagon behavior may be explained by other-regarding preferences as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-241
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Bandwagon behavior
  • Majority voting
  • Other-regarding voting
  • Secret ballots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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