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Why do people vote against their own interests?

Why do people vote against their own interests

Source: BBC News

Stashed in: Selling!, Psychology!, Politics!, Economics!, Greed!, Awesome, Politics 2012, poli, Cognitive Bias

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This two year old article came up thanks to Mimi.

Main reasons people vote against their interests:

1. Anger with incumbents, bureaucracy, having things explained to them, or "the system".

2. Stories resonate with them more than facts.

3. Authenticity of emotions matter more than economics. People who speak from the gut resonate more than people who speak from the cerebral cortex.

Tapping into anger with stories that resonate emotionally, is how you get people to vote against their interests.

The article has several illustrations but this one's my favorite: "Obama's administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans' Depression, caused by the Bush administration's ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him."

What's the matter with Kansas was the first strong explanation of this phenom

"Not long ago, Kansas would have responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay. This would have been a political certainty, as predictable as what happens when you touch a match to a puddle of gasoline. When business screwed the farmers and the workers – when it implemented monopoly strategies invasive beyond the Populists' furthest imaginings – when it ripped off shareholders and casually tossed thousands out of work – you could be damned sure about what would follow.

Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip today's Kansans of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land, and next thing you know they're protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there's a good chance they'll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower.

(Frank, T. 2004 "What's the Matter with Kansas?", pp. 67-68)"

now a movie you can see on netflix, etc

It's so interesting that they moved in the opposite direction of their ancestors.

Even with the explanation it's hard to believe.

"The result is that now people blame him." Was just reading a story in the NY'er that said the majority of voters blame the current economic mess on Bush, which has influenced the strategy of both Romney and Obama.

I'm happy the voters see it clearly.

I've listened to talk radio enough to hear plenty of people believe the lack of recovery is Obama's fault. Hopefully said people do not vote.

"Critical Thinking Skills" should be a mandatory class for middle- and high-schoolers.

Even without the critical, I'd think that "Thinking Skills" would be useful.

Why isn't that a class?

Or maybe they have an ideology that they believe in, as when well-off people vote for liberals. Not sure it all goes one way.

It doesn't all go one way. People are complex.

I don't believe people are complex, although their emotions may often be. Sally grew up in church and doesn't like gay marriage or abortion (even if secretly Sally or her friends have received abortions for unwanted pregnancies), Sally votes for a certain candidate; the issues that follow on things like Economy, whether or not a person is a US citizen or is a Muslim, follow out of confirmation bias. Sally has chosen her party based on her strongly-held religious beliefs, and so Sally then believes all the other things coming out of the party.

Not, complex. I know many Sallys. I know many that are Sally's opposite. A caricature? Perhaps, but a pretty accurate one despite the cartoonish edges.

I think many vote against their own interests because they are a) not educated b) believe the folks who make reasonable sounding arguments. Unfortunately, b is often influenced -- on both sides -- by those with the most charisma, money, or power. Therefore, the root cause is still a good number of folks who are not well educated having to believe folks who seem credible but are really self-interested.

Social + Economics issues and you have a pretty neat compass of how and why people vote.

As a general rule, I've always hated this question. Doesn't it assume that people are selfish, self-centered, single-issue voters?

When Warren Buffett comes out and says the government should raise his taxes, nobody seems to rush to say "But why would he vote against his own interests?"

Because it's something he believes in. And while he may gain from the status quo and like money, he has other beliefs that are more important to him.

But why when it's poor people voting against their immediate interests do we assume they're ignorant or manipulated by evil forces?

There's a complexity in choosing a candidate since its hard to 100% agree with anyone.

You're right there are very few single issue voters.

Still I wonder what anyone who is undecided is waiting to hear before deciding. The debates?

A billionaire who's in favor of reducing the deficits by restoring tax rates for the wealthiest isn't voting against his own interest. He correctly understands that this is the only way we'll ever pay down our debt. He also realizes that government performs certain vital services that the private sector cannot do, many of which directly benefit the businesses he owns.

So then the billionaires who just want to reduce taxes, whatever consequences, are not acting in self-interest?

What's interesting about this question is that each person have many interests.

The essence of compromise politics is giving up some of my interests so I can get some of what I want.

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