When it's Not All About Me: Altruism, Participation, and Political Context
34 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007
Date Written: June 8, 2007
Altruism refers to a willingness to pay a personal cost to make others better off. Past research has established a link between altruism and political participation, primarily among college students. We show that dictator game behavior predicts support for humanitarian norms and donations to Hurricane Katrina victims, suggesting that dictator game allocations are valid measures of altruism. Moreover, we show that this measure of altruism predicts participation in politics, suggesting that past results with students can be generalized to a broader population. Finally, consistent with the argument that altruists only participate when they think doing so will make everyone better off, we show that there is no relationship between altruism and voter turnout in an election where the outcome is distributive and where it is not clear that either political outcome will produce a net societal gain.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation