How Much Do Voters Know? An Analysis of Motivation and Political Awareness

Philip Jones, Peter Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


Downs argued that instrumental individuals have no incentive to incur costs to turn out to vote. High turnout rates are explained in terms of intrinsic value derived from action. But if it is important to individuals that they participate, surely it matters how they participate? This paper tests the proposition that voters acquire more political information than those who abstain because they believe they have a duty to participate in collective decision-making processes. It also considers the relevance of civic duty when explaining systematic differences between preferences expressed by those who vote and by those who abstain. Choice expressed at the ballot box is not the same as demand revealed in markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-142
Number of pages20
JournalScottish Journal of Political Economy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Rent-seeking
  • Search
  • Learning
  • Elections
  • Communication
  • Clubs
  • Associations (D710)
  • and Voting Behavior (D720)
  • Committees
  • Models of Political Processes
  • Legislatures
  • Information and Knowledge
  • Social Choice
  • Belief (D830)


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