Expressive Politics as (Costly) Norm-Following
71 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016 Last revised: 18 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 12, 2018
When making a decision whether to support a political candidate, policy or cause, individuals are observed to prioritize the expression of their political identities. Recent work shows they will even knowingly incur a cost in order to do so. We argue that leading theories on how political identities drive political decisions cannot explain this behavior but that the view of political identities as social identities that impart norms of correct behavior can. We develop and test the proposition that when making a political decision individuals are willing to knowingly incur a cost in order to comply with the norms of their political identity. Our contribution is to show, through a series of population-based experiments, that norms are an important additional mechanism by which political identities affect decisions and can explain observations that other mechanisms cannot. This has distinct implications for how identities affect political decisions.
Keywords: norms, identity, political expression, experiments
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