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Personal Agendas and the Relationship Between Self-Interest and Voting Behavior

Jason Young, Eugene Borgida, John Sullivan and John Aldrich
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 1987), pp. 64-71
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786891
Page Count: 8
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Personal Agendas and the Relationship Between Self-Interest and Voting Behavior
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Abstract

The moderator variable approach to the attitude-behavior relationship is applied to an understanding of the role of self-interest in predicting voting behavior. The present study addresses the question, "Under what conditions does self-interest more strongly relate to voting behavior?" This relationship may be moderated by the extent of personal involvement in the issue of interest, considered in terms of "personal agendas." Personal agendas are subjective rankings of issues in terms of their personal importance to the individual as well as their perceived importance for others. We hypothesized that only for people who accord a high ranking to a particular issue on their personal agendas would self-interest relate to their vote choice in the 1984 Presidential election. Using economic issues and related self-interest activities, clear support for this pattern was found in post-election Gallup Poll data. Such findings are consistent with research in social congnition that underscores the importance of individual difference variables such as personal involvement. In the present case, personal agendas may have moderated the issue's cognitive accessibility, and as a result, the relationship between self-interest and voting.

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