Voting behavior as social action––Habits, Norms, Values, and Rationality in Electoral Participation
Universität Bern, Schweiz
The aim of this study on voting behavior is to contribute theoretically and empirically to an improved understanding of social mechanisms generating the citizens’ decisions for electoral participation (Downs, 1957). In particular, it seeks to conduce to the development of a more coherent and sufficiently complex solution of the legendary paradox of electoral participation (Riker and Ordeshook 1968; Aldrich 1993) based on the Model of Frame Selection (Kroneberg, Yaish, and Stocké, 2010) by integrating the typology of rationalities and related social action suggested by Max Weber (1922) into a sociologically complete explanation of voter turnout (Norkus, 2000). This theory is tested empirically by a mix of direct and indirect test strategies. The empirical analysis, based on two German surveys in 1998 and 2017, reveals that instrumentally rational voting (purposively rational action) is rather a special case among modal types of action such as habitual voting (traditional action), norm-related voting (norm-guided resp. normative action), and voting due to value rationality (value-rational action). Taking different rationalities of action into account in a general theory of action, it is concluded that the paradox of voting is an artifact caused by theoretical and methodological fallacies in previous studies since the last 50 years (Becker, 2002).
Keywords: electoral participation; voter turnout; rational choice; norms; values; habits; frame selection
Utrecht University, Niederlande
Why do people adorn themselves with elaborate body piercings or tattoos, buy “stonewashed” jeans for an extra charge, wear designer clothes, or engage in other costly but socially stipulated practices? Norms of coordination and cooperation, which promote the efficient attainment of collective benefits, can be explained by rational choice theory (RCT). However, social norms prescribing self-destructing or wasteful behavior have thus far eluded explanations based on RCT. We argue that signaling theory, a branch of RCT, constitutes the basis for the understanding of the emergence of such norms, which we call signaling norms.
We first present and exemplify the main tenets of signaling theory and how it can explain the formation of cooperative relations in human groups. Based on this theoretical framework we argue that a demand for signaling norms arises because of information asymmetries pertaining to individuals’ commitments to a social group. That is, while cooperation and coordination norms emerge out of a demand for reducing negative externalities of individuals’ behaviors, signaling norms emerge out of a demand for reducing uncertainty about who is friend and who is foe.
We develop a game theoretic model which allows identifying the conditions for the emergence and evolution of signaling norms. In particular, we point out that it is the commitment and not the signaling aspect of the adherence to signaling norms that reduces uncertainty about the cooperative intent of members of the group. In other words, rather than an unobserved individual trait that can be inferred from norm-abiding behavior, the individual’s norm-abiding behavior proscribes cooperative relations with members of other groups.
By combining insights from signaling theory from economics and biology with rational choice theories of the emergence of social norms from sociology, we highlight how self-destructing or wasteful but socially stipulated behavior can promote the evolution of cooperation in humans.
Social Feedback Theory and the Spiral of Silence
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig
Humans are sensitive to social approval and disapproval. As John Locke wrote long ago: „no man escapes the punishment of their censure and dislike, who offends against the fashion and opinion of the company he keeps“. Normative social influence is a powerful force that has probably evolved to facilitate group cohesion, the emergence of social conventions and cooperation. However, recent modeling work has shown that human ability to coordinate with in-groups may come at the expense of an increasing alienation to out-groups and therefore drive polarization dynamics. In this contribution we show that it may also be the reason for which groups with certain opinions — sometimes even majorities — cease to speak out.
Social feedback theory provides a tractable framework to study how network embeddedness and cohesion of different opinion groups drives their ability to gain public audience. We consider the situation that two groups with different standpoints on a controversial issue have evolved and engage in public discourse. Individuals within both opinion groups can decide to express (E) their standpoint or to be silent (S). They receive supportive feedback from their respective in-group and negative feedback from agents in the out-group when expressing their opinion and use this information to adaptively assess which opinion is prevalent in their public spheres and whether their opinion can be articulated without being sanctioned. We characterize the structural situation by the structural strength of the two opinion groups defined in terms of their respective sizes, their in-group cohesion and inter-group connectivity. In this way we can formulate the model as a 2D dynamical system describing the time evolution of the feedback expectations of the two groups and, along with that, the rates of opinion expression. This provides an encompassing picture of the qualitative model behavior which relates structural transitions of interaction networks to qualitatively different regimes of public opinion expression.
Banisch, S., Gaisbauer, F., & Olbrich, E. (2020). How social feedback processing in the brain shapes collective opinion processes in the era of social media. arXiv preprint (https://arxiv.org/pdf/2003.08154.pdf)
Gaisbauer, F., Olbrich, E., & Banisch, S. (2019). The dynamics of opinion expression. arXiv preprint (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1912.12631.pdf)
Contextual Conditions for Fairness: Intriguing Evidence from two Empirical Field Studies
Universität Leipzig, Deutschland
Fairness is a moral norm of fundamental importance for the working of human societies and is closely linked to the evolution of cooperation in humans. When actors share a resource, fair sharing coincides with the principles of equality (the same shares for all) and/or equity (the shares correspond to the actors‘ contributions to the resource). Although fairmess is widely considered as the optimal criteria for the allocation of resources among actors (minimizing conflicts over the resources and enhancing cooperation among the sharing actors), its occurence is nevertheless surprising from a theoretical point of view: a utility maximizing actor should instead aim for the largest share possible.
In game theoretical models, fair sharing is explained through mechanisms that equalize the bargaining powers of the sharing actors. When the sharing actors have the same bargaining power, fair sharing is a Nash-equilibrium (the only Nash-equilibrium). On the other hand, as soon as one sharing actor has more bargaining power than the others, she will use her bargaining power to obtain a larger share, leading to an unfair allocation of the resource. Interestingly, this central assumption has been falsified in numerous experiments: in both, the dictator and the ultimatum games, the powerful players frequently offer fair shares to the subordinate players. However, the situation in those experiments is highly artificial, potentially leading to social desirable behavior. Here, I present two field experiments based on a sequential common pool resource dictator game (one study was conducted with small-scale communities in Guinea, the other with the inhabitants of asylum seeking accomodations in Leipzig) with random attribution of bargaining power to subjects. Bargaining power did not systematically affect sharing behavior of subjects in those studies. These results highlight the need for more theoretical research related to the effect of bargaining power on the sharing of resources.
Exploring Impacts of Artificial Intelligence on Urban Societies with Social Simulations
1Universität Mannheim, Deutschland; 2University of Maryland, USA; 3HDM Stuttgart
Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems create opportunities for the efficient allocation of scarce public resources and are at the core of many smart city activities. Yet, the same systems may also result in unintended social consequences, particularly by reinforcing social inequalities. In previous (mainly computer science) research, social impacts of AI are usually assumed to be improved by designing Fair Machine Learning (ML) processes. With a narrow focus on algorithmic biases, however, most past studies on Fair ML do not consider long-term effects of applied AI systems on macro-level social inequality. It is therefore necessary to study how local decisions aggregate to emergent macro-social outcomes over time by considering dynamics in the social systems. We propose to use Agent-Based Models (ABM) which include both human and machine agents (i.e. AI systems) to study macro-level consequences of AI in urban societies. In this talk, we will introduce a general research design aimed to uncover inequalities along the prototypical steps of a smart city process. We conclude by presenting preliminary results of a use case application on the smart pricing of public services.
Petri Nets for Modelling Norms of Social Exchange
Uni Fribourg, Schweiz
Traditional social network analysis is mainly interested in the topology (structure) of networks and less in the flow of items and information (content) passing thru these channels (1). Moreover, sociological analyses dealing with the norms and rules of exchange between individual or collective actors are beyond the capacities and interests of traditional network analysis. Thus, the author proposes to consider for these purposes the Petri net approach, which was originally designed for describing concurrent processes in computers and other automata (2). On the grounds of his earlier experiences with this approach (3), he suggests to use and adapt its concepts in order to describe phenomena like commercial exchange, purchase on credit, gifts and return-gifts, reciprocity, and equivalence of exchange, etc. In most of these cases, the flows of goods are paralleled by return-flows of money, other goods, or prestige such that use of Petri nets imposes itself.
In order to demonstrate the usefulness of the Petri net approach, the author presents a formalization of the Kula trade (4): in his classical book (5) about the "Argonauts of the Western Pacific", Malinowski describes two counter-rotating rings of trade with prestige goods, i.e. beautiful necklaces and arm-shells, which are exchanged between a group of islands in the Western Pacific. The function of this trade is non-commercial: it serves for maintaining the social cohesion between the participating tribes by a regular and reciprocal exchange of equivalent gifts. A formalization of this Kula trade with elements from the Petri net approach allows to study the conditions, under which the mentioned regularity, reciprocity, and equivalence of the Kula trade are maintained or violated. Due to the complex nature of the studied Petri net, Monte Carlo simulations are used, by which the number of items available for trade, the social norms, and other parameters can be varied.
(1) See e.g. J. Scott (1998): Social Network Analysis. Sage, London.
(5) B. Malinowski (2010): Argonauts of the Western Pacific. Benediction Classics, Oxford.