A social image theory of information acquisition, opinion formation, and voting

Vladimir A. Karamychev, Otto H. Swank*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Recent empirical research on voter turnout has revealed a variety of regularities. Citizens who expect to be asked about their turnout decisions after the elections are more likely to vote. Parents whose children enter the electorate are more likely to vote when their children live home than when they left home. Citizens without social networks acquire less information about politics. We develop a model that can explain these and other empirical findings. In our model, citizens receive disutility from being perceived not to have voted. This motivates a citizen to vote. Moreover, a citizen feels worse being perceived not to have voted when he is thought to have a strong opinion as this raises expectations about his voting behavior among peers. When a citizen anticipates that he will likely vote, the latter concern motivates him to acquire information, to participate in political discussions, and to vote. However, when a citizen anticipates that he will likely abstain from voting, he shies away from politics to lower his peers’ expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102164
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

JEL classification: D72, D83

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

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