Non-consequentialist voting

Moses Shayo*, Alon Harel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Published in 2010 as a discussion paper for Center for the Study of Rationality

"Standard theory assumes that voters' preferences over actions (voting) are induced by their preferences over electoral outcomes (policies, candidates). But voters may also have non-consequentialist (NC) motivations: they may care about how they vote even if it does not affect the outcome. When the likelihood of being pivotal is small, NC motivations can dominate voting behavior. To examine the prevalence of NC motivations, we design an experiment that exogenously varies the probability of being pivotal yet holds constant other features of the decision environment. We find a significant effect, consistent with at least 12.5 percent of subjects being motivated by NC concerns."

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)299-313
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Robert J. Aumann, Roland Benabou, Dan Benjamin, Christoph Engel, Alex Gershkov, Sergiu Hart, Ori Heffetz, Esteban Klor, John Morgan, Ilan Nehama, Yaacov Ritov, Jean-Robert Tyran, Eyal Winter and two anonymous referees for valuable comments and suggestions. Ari Eichler, Guy Sopher and Matan Zilcha provided excellent research assistance. Moses Shayo thanks the Leitner Program in Political Economy at Yale University for its hospitality during his sabbatical visit in 2010–2011 and the Authority for Research & Development at the Hebrew University for financial support.


  • Democracy
  • Elections
  • Expressive voting
  • Extended preferences
  • Social preferences


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