Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy Voters More Likely to Vote

Hmm, yes, this picture confirms the research!
From NY Daily News.
Today The Montreal Gazette reports that people who are happy are more likely to vote. This information comes from research to be published in a forthcoming issue of The Journal of Happiness Studies. The researchers compared American survey respondents' voting habits and political participation (displaying a yard sign or working for a campaign, etc.) with their overall happiness. They found a positive correlation, even when controlling for income, sex, race, education, and interest in government.

According to study authors Patrick Flavin and Michael J. Keane, these results ran counter to their original hypothesis. "We went in with the theory that people who were satisfied with their lives would be less likely to participate; they're doing fine, so there's less reason to get involved in politics or to change the status quo," says Flavin. "But we found that people who (said) that they were very satisfied, as compared to not very satisfied, were about seven percentage points more likely to vote."

This perhaps means that once a country reaches a certain level of stability and prosperity, happy citizens can vote on things they didn't have time to care about previously--like the environment--so they come to the polls in greater numbers. The researchers add that that the results do not work the other way around; in other words, there is no evidence that voting increases happiness.

It seems kind of backward, since you would think that unhappy people would want to vote for change, but that's apparently the way it is! (You can read the actual 30-page study in PDF format here.)

4 comments:

  1. I see why it can be so, actually! Maybe if you're happy, you feel like you don't want anything to get in the way of your happiness and thus want to support the current state of thing.

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  2. And yep, then we have unhappy people who are more likely to be pessimistic then and might thin that whatever they do wouldn't matter and things would never change...

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  3. Yeah, I think that just goes to show that everyone should vote, whether they want everything to stay the same or change. Curiously, the U.S. is at the bottom of this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout#International_differences (and Russia is 5th from the bottom)

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  4. Thanks for the wiki link, this was indeed curious!

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