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A Game-Theoretic View of Voting


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joachim I. Krueger, Department of Psychology, Brown University, Box 1853, 89 Waterman St., Providence, RI 02912 [e-mail:].


Two game-theoretic arguments for the potential rationality of voting are presented. The first argument suggests that people make choices that allow the most favorable forecasts. People choose to vote inasmuch as they project their own choices between voting and abstaining more strongly onto members of their own political group than onto members of other political groups. Relevant evidence is reviewed and extended by new findings in a simulated public-goods dilemma. The second argument suggests that people preview how they will feel about each of the four possible scenarios generated by the conjunctions of their own choices (to vote or to abstain) and the election outcome (victory or defeat). They choose to vote inasmuch as they feel their own vote will not be wasted. The implications of both arguments for efforts to increase turnout are discussed.