Altruistic voting

By Jason Marsh | February 20, 2008 | 0 comments

It's always interesting to come across real-world examples that corroborate scientific research findings, and that's what happened when I was reading the newspaper this morning.

Last fall, I wrote in Greater Good about new research showing that the greatest factor that predicts whether someone will vote is their level of altruism: The more altruistic you are, the more likely you are to vote. This challenges years of conventional wisdom about voting–namely, that voters are driven by self-interest, that they put their pocketbooks ahead of less selfish concerns.

Sure enough, in today's New YorK Times, a piece on the results of yesterday's Democratic primary in Wisconsin ended with this extended quote from Wisconsin resident Mary Liedtke, in which she explains why she was swayed to vote for Obama over Clinton:

Some elderly women I've heard say, 'I want to see a woman president before I die,' and I know that's why some of them are supporting Hillary.

But you know what? That's a selfish reason to vote for a president just because you want to see a woman before you die. What about the kids coming up? I feel we should vote for the young people.

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About The Author

Jason Marsh is the editor in chief of Greater Good.


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