Habitual Voting and Behavioral Turnout

27 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007

See all articles by James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine


Bendor, Diermeier, and Ting (2003) develop a behavioral alternative to rational choice models of turnout. However, the assumption they make about the way individuals adjust their probability of voting biases their model towards their main result of significant turnout in large populations. Moreover, the assumption causes individuals to engage in casual voting (sometimes people vote and sometimes they abstain). This result is at odds with a substantial literature that indicates most people engage in habitual voting (they either always vote or always abstain). I develop an alternative model to show how feedback in the probability adjustment mechanism affects the behavioral model. The version of this model without feedback yields both high turnout and habitual voting.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H., Habitual Voting and Behavioral Turnout. Journal of Politics, Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 335-344, May 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1007995

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

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