Tuesday Seminar – 26 January

Social norms and electoral participation: doing what is right or doing like everyone else

Maxime Coulombe (Université de Montréal)

People tend to behave differently, often more in accordance with social norms, when they feel observed or when they know their behavior is monitored or disclosed to others. In political science, Get-Out-To-Vote
experiments have shown how people can be influenced to vote when told that their decision to vote or to abstain will be disclosed. Yet, we do not know if and how expectations about others knowing whether we voted or disapproving if we would abstain, influence the decision to vote. I hypothesize a moderation effect where disapproval only matters when respondents expect their behavior to be known. Using survey data from an original question module in the 2019 Canadian Election Study, I capture the influence of empirical expectations about others’ behavior, disapproval (normative) expectations, and visibility expectations. All measures distinguish the partner, family, friends, and neighbors. I have three main findings: 1) relationship status shapes the clarity of expectations, 2) expectations about others’ behavior are strongly related to voting intentions, and 3) there is no evidence supporting direct or moderation effects for disapproval and visibility. My findings regarding visibility are at odds with the literature. I discuss the implications.

Contact Semih Çakır if you would like to participate in the seminar.

This content has been updated on 25 January 2021 at 10 h 19 min.