When it's Not All About Me: Altruism, Participation, and Political Context

34 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007

See all articles by Cindy D. Kam

Cindy D. Kam

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

Skyler J. Cranmer

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

James H. Fowler

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

Date Written: June 8, 2007

Abstract

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

Kam, Cindy D. and Cranmer, Skyler J. and Fowler, James H., When it's Not All About Me: Altruism, Participation, and Political Context (June 8, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1008208 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1008208

Cindy D. Kam

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

Skyler J. Cranmer

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
78
Abstract Views
865
rank
309,460
PlumX Metrics