HKS Authors

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Traditional models of why people vote conceptualize voting as a static, self-interested decision. This conceptualization cannot explain why people vote given the miniscule probability that their vote will affect most election outcomes. In this chapter we advance a new behavioral model of why people vote. We begin by describing recent field experimental research that inductively explores the characteristics of effective get-outthe- vote communication channels. This research finds that more personal means of communicating (i.e., face-to-face canvassing) are more motivating than less personal ones (i.e., telephone calls). We then develop a conceptual model of voting as a “dynamic social expression.” Doing so links the question of why people vote to an array of behavioral research that has not been systematically linked to it before. We discuss implications for voter mobilization strategy, and also set out an agenda for future research.


Rogers, Todd. "Rethinking Why People Vote: Voting as Dynamic Social Expression." Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy. Ed. Eldar Shafir. Princeton University Press, 2012.