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Risk Attitudes and Political
Cindy D. Kam Vanderbilt University
to existing I argue
participation participate establish
by proposing in political
that citizens' life because
predict participation. excitement. and general Analyses political
who are risk accepting surveys also suggest Further
offers novelty and risk attitudes action varies and
of two independent participation. who
relationship in general
The analyses are more
that the relationship
with the political excitement
risk accepting between
are more analyses
likely to participate and political
acts, but they seeking and
are no more or less likely to turn out in elections. seeking—underlie the relationship
that two key mechanisms—novelty participation.
the globe, people Across
participate in politics.
They join protests. They sign petitions. They work on campaigns, attend rallies, and contact government officials. Yet, given the miniscule odds that
out risky options or behaviors" (2002, 267). Further, and in line with work by Zuckerman (2007), I conceptualize this risk attitude as encapsulating an individual's prefer ences for sensation seeking. I combine a psychophysical risk-return model with an individual-difference approach based on sensation seeking to argue for a positive relation ship between risk attitudes and political participation. The psychophysical risk-return model suggests that deci sion makers weigh the subjectively perceived risks of an action against the subjectively perceived returns from the action. The sensation-seeking literature suggests that in dividuals acquire benefits from engaging in actions that offer novelty and excitement. Combining these two ap proaches suggests that people who are risk accepting, that is, those who value novelty and excitement, will be more likely to weigh the benefits of participation more heav ily than the costs of it, and, thus, will be more likely to participate in political life. To test this argument, I analyze two independent Internet surveys. These analyses establish a positive
and significant PMB relationship 0505, between risk attitudes and
a given individual's act will bring about change, why is it that people still choose to participate? Political participa tion is a well-established paradox (Aldrich 1993; Downs 1957), and political scientists continue to probe the un derpinnings of this paradox. In this article, I contribute to existing explanations of political participation by inves tigating a largely ignored determinant of political action: citizens' risk attitudes. By identifying the connection be tween risk attitudes and political life, this article sheds new light on the meaning and functions of political par ticipation for individual citizens.1 I conceptualize a risk attitude as a stable perspective with which an individual evaluates the social and po litical world.2 This view of risk attitude maps onto the "conventional risk attitude" described by Weber, Biais, and Betz, which consists of "a descriptive label of the
degree to which an individual appears to avoid or seek
vanderbilt.edu). I am grateful to Adam Berinsky, lohn Geer, Don Kinder, Harvard Center for American Political Studies Workshop Policy at the University 'Electronic 2There of Michigan for constructive Adam and participants at the Levine, Efrén Pérez, Beth Simas, Liz Zechmeister, and the Center for Political Studies Interdisciplinary on Politics and Workshop All errors are my own. upon publication.
files for replicating
all results are available on whether
at https://my.vanderbilt.edu/cindykam individual difference
exists. Research based on generalized situation can substantially affect risky decision making in general, and it generally Theory suggests that features of the contextual differences (e.g., Bromiley and Curley 1992). This work is complemented that the empirical ignores individual by others who conclude difficulties in predicting risk attitudes across measures and across contexts suggest that is highly unlikely that a general risk attitude actually exists (e.g., Slovic 1962). Other work argues that an individual difference in sensation seeking (which relates to risk) does exist (e.g., Prospect Zuckerman upon 2007). And, other work argues circumstance or domain that even if a generalized orientation and effect may be conditional exists, its manifestation risk attitudes as they apply to political (Weber, Biais, and Betz 2002). Here, I am interested in examining to other domains such as health or finance is beyond the scope of this project. Vol. 56, No. 4, October 2012, Pp. 817-836 DOI: 10.111 l/j,1540-5907.2012.00605.x
is to date no consensus
or not a stable,
in risk attitudes
life; establishing American ©2012,
generalizability of Political
This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Sat, 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
They find that while political activists are rarely motivated by selective material benefits (e. Schlozman.26. (2) the perceived risks (or costs) of the behavior. from occupational choices to social attitudes. costs). drug use. boring. legal. on returns versus risks.16. As such.5 on Sat. Schlozman. such as gam bling. 278).g.3 Political participation may not be risky in the same way that reckless driving and skydiving are risky.CINDY D. Additionally. the relationship between risk attitudes and action varies with the political act.. risk more broadly is viewed as the "possibility of loss" (Yates and Stone 1992. high-risk sports. an individual's willingness to engage in some be havior is a function of three factors: (1) the perceived returns (or benefits) of the behavior. offset any presumed benefits from participating. money. yielding no positive or even negative returns (that is. or because the political act might not render the expected gratifications. Some individuals may see politics as uninteresting. porates three psychological of returns. and complexity. collective outcomes such as the desire to make a difference to public policy also motivate participation. (2) the subjective costs of participation. The results from participating are uncertain: an individual's financial. Weber. work. and psychological risk. and psy chological investment. to risky behaviors.. and socialize with other indi viduals fall under the category of selective social gratifi cations. they are significantly less likely to make re ligious donations. The relationship is robust to alter native specifications that include standard predictors of participation and standard measures of personality. complex. and Brady (1995) relates exactly to this notion that political life is exciting. and financial risks for the sake of such experience" (Zuckerman 1994. Sensation seeking is "a trait defined by the seek ing of varied. fits. Moreover. people who perceive acts to provide greater returns also underestimate the potential costs of engaging in those acts. Finally. and the psychological subjective perceptions between the two (Weber and Johnson 2009). and reckless driving (Zuckerman 1979. the halo effect sug gests that "greater expected benefits were associated with smaller perceived risks" (Weber. Some individuals may be deterred from participating because they do not have sufficient re sources. They receive positive returns from activities with these features. Supplementary analyses lend support to the proposed mechanism linking the two: risk-seeking people participate in politics because political life offers novelty and excitement. such as time or money. and collective policy outcomes. pointless. Sensation seeking predicts behav ior across a wide range of activities.g. and intense sensations and experiences. According to this work. and the willingness to take physical. 2007). those who perceive large benefits from This content downloaded from 138. selective social gratifications. Biais. and Betz 2002. Thus. Verba. excitement. Thus. individuals may consider the relative weight to place on benefits versus costs. Hence. temporal. temporal. the costs may simply be prohibitive. developed countries.27). providing em pirical evidence to suggest that a generalized orientation towards risky behavior may exist. sensation seekers are predis posed to seek novelty. we can apply a psychophysical risk-return model to political participation by thinking about ( 1 ) the subjective benefits of participation. participation does not typically pose a risk to mortality. to participate: hence. either because a policy out come might not be realized. and Brady (1995) categorize these ben efits into four broad groupings: selective material bene risk-return model is distinct from expected psychophysical utility and standard risk-return models in that it explicitly incor factors: subjective perceptions of risks. And. risky sexual activity. Under a psychophysical risk-return model. the chance to improve one's job prospects). social. That is. KAM political participation. and (3) the trade-off between the returns of participating and the costs of participating. And. selective social and civic gratifications are powerful inducements to political activity. and (3) the individual's willingness to trade off between those costs and benefits. 4). Recall that one of the selective gratifications identified by Verba. But. In in dustrialized. Costs. one of the reasons people who are risk accepting should partic ipate is because political participation offers a selective benefit that resonates specifically with these types of in dividuals: excitement. or irritating. Biais. and Betz 2002) can provide a theoretical template for con sidering the relationship between risk attitudes and po litical participation. Participation scholars have identified several returns (or benefits) that individuals garner from participation. Excitement and chances to meet. or psychological investment in politics may not come to fruition in the end. but they are no more or less likely to turn out in elections. Conceptualizing Risk Attitudes and Political Life A psychophysical risk-return model (e. trade-off 3This I combine this risk-return theoretical framework with the literature on individual differences in sensation seeking to understand how risk attitudes might affect par ticipation. political participation does pose some financial. Not everyone agrees that these are potential bene fits to participating. Participating takes time. People who are more risk accepting are more likely to participate in general political acts. of course. The desire to do one's duty falls into the selective civic gratifications. selective civic gratifi cations. novel. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .
And others have views in between.01) 1 Some people say you should be cautious about 0.01) 0. even if I have to break the rules.45 (0.. anchored at the value of 1 with the statement "You should be cautious about making ma jor changes in life" and at the value of 7 with the statement "You will never achieve much in life unless you act boldly.Very difficult) Overall Index Cronbach's a N ANES: Table SSI: Table entry is weighted sample mean with linearized entry is sample mean with standard error below. Suppose these people are located place 2 Suppose fourth at 7. were on this scale? betting you on horses be more and likely were a big winner playing in the third or take or 0. differences report that "individual (e. 278).29 (0.) benefit perceptions.4 ipate in a study on "Personality and Decision-Making. Table 1 presents the question text and item descriptives.700 respondents were recruited via Survey Sam pling International's (SSI) opt-in Internet panel to partie along several demographics: age.01) 0. The second dataset is an Internet study conducted from May 27 to June 3. Both surveys included a battery of questions designed to tap risk attitudes. Hence.01) Would to continue your winnings? (Definitely continue playing. ideol ogy. sex.41 (0. and race/ethnicity.01) 0. (Strongly disagree to strongly agree.71 2186 standard error below. household income.01) 0. Weber.01) 0." This diverse set of individuals provides an opportunity to probe further the relationship between risk attitudes and participation. Appendix Table Al compares respon dents from the SSI with those from the ANES 2008-2009 panel. etary. rather than the trade-off between risks and and Betz benefits" (2002.67 (0. and psychology. on sensation influenced risk taking primarily by affecting risk and seeking. Where would you yourself you race. However. we might expect risk-accepting individuals to both perceive high benefits to participating and to assess lower costs to participating.5 The measure of Risk Acceptance is an additive index comprised of responses to a seven-question battery of items that were culled from existing research in political science. temporal.01) 0.01) 0.66 (0. Definitely take my winnings) 3 4 5 6 7 I would (Strongly like to explore disagree strange places. 5 categories) 0. Biais. 5 categories) In general. 22 4Sensation seekers of participating.29 (0. Approxi mately 1.01) 0.01) in life.56 (0. Probably take my winnings. The first question asks respondents to place them selves on a 7-point scale. change for the benefits may also be more willing to trade off the mon and psychological costs from participating in ex This content downloaded from 138.16.01) 0. (Strongly disagree to strongly agree. I rely upon two datasets.35 (0.g. Not sure. Probably continue playing.48 (0.5 on Sat. education. Somewhat easy.26." This question was based on one that appears on the 1990 5The Risk Acceptance index was placed on Wave 22 (from October to November 30.01) 0. participating may attribute lower risks to participating.33 (0.75 1709 to strongly I like to do frighteningthings. we see that the two samples are very similar A Measure of Risk Attitudes To estimate the relationship between risk attitudes and political participation. Suppose these people are located at 1. 5 categories) I like new and exciting experiences.RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Table Item# 1 Risk Acceptance Index Question Text ANES Panel making major changes SSI Study 0. The first dataset is the 2008-2009 American National Election Study panel (ANES).57 (0. Somewhat difficult. There.49 (0..45 (0.47 (0.45 (0. 2011. partisanship. sociology.01) 0. how easy or difficultis it for you to accept taking risks? (Very easy.50 (0.01) 0. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 5 categories) I prefer friends who are exciting and unpredictable. (Strongly disagree to strongly agree.. Others say that you will never achieve much in life unless you act boldly. agree. 2009) of the ANES 2008-2009 panel study.01) 0. 0.
the results are highly comparable the ANES and the SSI datasets.16. and Schäfer 1999. and Biais (1999). The existing literature has also es tablished that females are less risk accepting than males (e.58. control for age. I estimate partial correlation coefficients that relate Risk Acceptance with a series of covariates (primarily drawn from the risk literature) that have political relevance. A laboratory study of 287 undergraduates shows that the Risk Acceptance scale correlates positively and sig nificantly with Kogan and Wallach's (1964) 12-vignette Choice Dilemmas Questionnaire (CDQ) (r = 0. Weber. KAM and 1995 installments of the World Values Survey (an alyzed by Miller 2000 and Freese 2004. thus avoiding some of the difficulties with the long and administratively cumbersome measures in psychology. and then rescaled into a Risk Acceptance Index. Rentfrow. summed together. Ideology Table entry is the partial ***p < 0. a lengthy scale that has been used by one set of political scientists studying risk attitudes (Kowert and Hermann 1997). The overall 30-item DOSPERT scale correlates well with the 7-item Risk Acceptance scale. The SSI study shows that Risk Acceptance correlates positively and significantly with Biais and Weber's (2006) 30-item Domain-Specific Risk Taking scale (DOSPERT). All of the corre lations below thus control for the other covariates. and Swann's (2003) Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI). race. 2004. Byrnes. and the mean of Table 2a Structural Acceptance Correlates of Risk ANES 2008-2009 Age Female Panel SSI 2011 Survey q q -0. "In general. ranging from 0 (risk averse) to 1 (risk acceptant).17*** q —0. and Schäfer 1999. education. as measured with Gosling. Fagley and Miller 1990. and behavioral decision theory. The last question asks respondents.19. at r = 0. Smith et al. p < 0. correlation coefficients ideology. in both the ANES and the SSI datasets. with more than 96% of respondents all of them. and Betz 2002. Biais. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .01 for both).01. Criterion validity of the scale can be established by examining whether the scale correlates with characteris tics with which it ought to correlate. The seven items were each rescaled to range from 0 (risk averse) to 1 (risk acceptant). this pattern also appears in the ANES analyses (partial r = —0. rather than simple answering additive. The next question was drawn from the 1972 National Election Study. a battery that asks respondents about their views on new experiences. The next items are drawn from the Brief Sensation-Seeking Scale (Hoyle et al. The high level of consistency between the existing literature and what correlates with it in the present samples supports the criterion validity of the mea sure.820 CINDY D. The 30-item measure comprises five subscales that tap domain-specific risk attitudes regarding social risk. as they appeared on the questionnaire. Ehrlich and Maestas (2010) and Tomz and Van Houweling (2009) also analyze a variant of it. Moreover. Risk Acceptance correlates significantly with Ide ological Identification. Miller. sex.01). across We can also examine the convergent validity of the scale by correlating it with measures to which it the oretically should relate. Existing literature (Byrnes. The questions.21*** -0. ANES and SSI datasets also reflect this general pattern (partial r = —0. risk]).17.34).26.7 To do so. We might also be interested in the relationship between Risk Acceptance and politically relevant predispo sitions. it asks respondents about whether they would keep betting on horses (or take their winnings) if they had just won a race.19.6 As shown in Table 1. economics. the 6Nonresponse was minimal. and ethnicity. and Betz 2002). Weber.5 on Sat. The measure is compact enough to be administered in a survey context. p < 0. such that liberals are more risk ac cepting than conservatives. These partial correlation coefficients appear in Table 2a. how easy or difficult is it for you to accept taking risks?" This item is analyzed by Nadeau.28 [ethical risk] to 0. and ethi cal risk.01) and in the SSI data (partial r = —0. This content downloaded from 138. Miller. This finding is consistent with that of Kam and Simas (2010).09*** correlation coefficient. a variant of the question appeared on a 1997 Mexican national survey and was analyzed by Morgenstern and Zechmeister 2001 ). varied in direction in order to avoid acquiescence response bias. the distribution of each of the Risk Acceptance items was almost identical across the two samples. recre ational risk. Using a factor-based. 7The partial income.g. 8The five separate subscales also correlate well with the Risk Accep tance scale (r ranges from 0. algorithm makes no difference. health/safety risk. The Risk Acceptance scale also correlates well with existing measures of risk attitudes. see Fischoff 1992 for a dis cussion) has found that older individuals are more risk averse.8 The Risk Acceptance scale also correlates positively and strongly with some aspects of the Five-Factor Personality Model.56 [recreational partisanship. Martin. p < 0. 2002). This item is analyzed by Berinsky and Lewis (2007). as shown the overall scale is nearly identical as well. financial risk. Biais.21 and partial r = —0..
Within Wave 6 of the ANES. Finally. run on a nationally representative sample drawn from Knowledge Networks across the span of two weeks. a finding that is consistent with sociological literature identifying the tie between risk aversion and religiosity (Freese and Montgomery 2007. Hispanic is coded 1 for and the suppressed reference group is whites. Miller 2000. It is less correlated with the dimensions of Agreeable ness. Education ranges from 0 (<HS) (Advanced degree).13 One clear exception to this relationship between Risk Acceptance and action is the one nonpolitical item in the battery: religious donation. The least popular acts are joining a protest (with only less than 2% of respondents thinking they would be "extremely likely" to engage in it) and distributing information or ads for a political/social group (only 2% thinking they would be "extremely likely" to do so). The average interitem pairwise corre pear in Appendix lation is 0. statistically significant.06*** 0. attending a local government or school board meeting. Miller and Hoffman 1995). Of the 915 original respondents. donating money to a religious organization. This clear exception provides an important check on an alternative explanation: that 0.9 The Risk Acceptance scale correlates most strongly with the Openness dimension of the Five-Factor Model in the ANES and SSI datasets. race.01.06 (attending a rally and making a religious a political meeting 12A11 variables dents.35*** *** o r-H 00 0.41*** 0. donating money to a political/social organization. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . education. but it also cor relates substantially with the Extraversion dimension as well. the analyses sug gest that Risk Acceptance is a reliable and valid measure of heterogeneity in risk attitudes.12 The regression estimates in Table 3 show that for nearly ev ery political act. and a maximum r of 0. enable me to the risk accepting are simply more likely to engage in "The text along with descriptive statistics ap complete question Table A2.06** 0. and Emotional Stability. age. Income is coded into five categories: 0 ( <$35K) to 1 (>$85K). a follow-up survey two weeks later.05. yielded Pearson r = 0.13*** -0.10 Altogether. with a minimum r of —0. The most popular polit ical act was signing a paper petition: 11% of respondents thought they would be "extremely likely" to do so. the effect of Risk Acceptance is positive. panel. I estimate a series of or dered probit models that include standard controls for participation: sex. and distributing flyers to support a political/ social organization.76 (attending donation) and inviting someone to attend one). To what extent do risk attitudes predict intended par ticipation in politics? To assess the relationship between risk attitudes and participation. 13The politics Berinsky connection (2004). As with Table 2a. a randomly selected half of the respondents were asked to look to the future and assess their likelihood of partici pating in a series of acts: rallies/marches/demonstrations.11 ANES 2008-2010 Panel Openness Extraversion Agreeableness Conscientiousness SSI 2011 Survey There is good variation in citizens' expectations about whether they will participate in these acts. of the data was collected for a separate. in Table 2b. Emotional Stability Table entry is the pairwise ***p < 0.RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Table 2b Personality Acceptance Correlates of Risk a meeting.29*** q 09*** -0. The most pop ular act on the list is actually not a political one: 32% of respondents thought it was "extremely likely" that they would make a religious donation. Here. Ideology tive) to 1 (extremely else to attend such of the ANES to 1 liberal). the direction of the effect flips: the risk averse are significantly more likely to donate. and ethnicity. the results across the two surveys are quite similar. household income. **p < 0. between reinterview 2008-2009 10The first wave mental study which was fielded in May and Simas 2010). ideology.81. ANES analyses are weighted using the "weights" variable that accompa nied the Wave 22 dataset and the "stratum" variable in the ANES Hispanics. risk acceptance and participation in with the findings from a working paper by in which he analyzes responses to the 1972 ANES. Strength of partisanship to 1 (strong partisan).26. and large in magnitude: the risk accepting are significantly more likely to participate in politics.06** correlation coefficient. inviting someone 'The TIPI was panel. attending a meeting on po litical/social issues. signing a paper petition.06** -0.5 on Sat. 787 completed is consistent This content downloaded from 138. Conscientiousness.36.16. strength of partisanship. Female is coded 1 for female respon to 1 (sample maxi minimum) ranges from 0 (pure independent) ranges from 0 (extremely conserva examine the extent to which risk attitudes predict politi cal action and engagement. signing an e-petition. Black is coded 1 for blacks. Assessing the Link between Risk Attitudes and Political Action I begin with an analysis of the 2008-2009 The ANES panel contains several items that ANES panel. scale responses are stable: a test-retest corre lation. 0-1. 2009 (described experi in Kam included in a 2010 are coded Age ranges from 0 (sample mum).
38 0.20 0.36 1.15 0.46 0.95*** 0.46* 0.14 0.16 -0.62* 0.27 2.10 0.12 0. the likelihood of being willing to distribute information and advertisements for a political or social group also increases more than fourfold.65 0.06 0.41* 0.38* 0.26 0.38 -0.31 0.04 0. In response to this battery of ques tions.15 0. march.08 0.30 1.32 1022 Petition 0.33** 0.31* 0.31** 0.05 0.73 0.13 0.36 0.56 0.18 -0.95 0.38 0.77** 0.31 1.65 0.40 0.38 1022 standard likely).17 0.17 0.16 0. the most popular act is still religious donations.03 0.33 0.13 0.30 0.09 0.85*** 0.21 0.10 -0.36 0.28 1022 E-petition 0.22*** 0.25* 0. from 5% to 21% across the range of Risk Acceptance.20 0.12 0.42 2.32 0.16 0.14 0.33 1.14 -0.51 0.23 0.32 0.23 0.18 0.02 0.11 0.22 -0.15 -0. The other half-sample was asked to look to the past and report on whether or not they had ever engaged in the same list of acts.14 0.18 0.14 -0.10 0.02 0. as with the prospective battery. the results clearly suggest that the risk accepting are willing to participate in politics—either to shoulder the present costs of participation to gamble on the future or to encounter the novelty inherent in participating in political life.10 0.00 0.28** 0.12 0.17 0.14 0.16 -0.18 0.34* 0.50 1022 -0.30 0.15 0.60*** 0.33 0.16 0.10. Weighted any action.01*** 0. error below.34 0.19 0. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and the least popular acts are joining a protest or inviting someone to attend a meeting about political or social concerns (with only 22% having done This content downloaded from 138.57 0. the probability of reporting that one is "moderately likely.16 0.16 0.17 0.26.48** 0.11 -0.16 -0.27 1. from a mere 5% of signing a paper petition in the future increases from 33% for the most risk averse to 65% for the most risk ac cepting.22 0.15 0.31 1.05 0. 0.01.11 0.37* 0.42 0.01 0. The likelihood 14These modes.14 0.16 -0.14 0.65*** 0.83 0.17 0.19 -0.78** 0.18 -0.34 1.21 -0.20 0.10 0.42 1022 Recruit for Hand Out Info Religious Donation Rally Risk Acceptance Female Meeting 0.74** 0.16 0.16 0.17 0.05.01 0.94 0.70 0.39 2. Overall.13 0.26 0.21 0. the likelihood of fu ture participation increases.27 of 0.16 -0.06 0.25 0.19 -0.09 0.25 0. "*p "p < 0. with 83% of respondents reporting that they have done it.11 0.46 1022 analysis.30 0.27 1.10 0.56 0. *p < 0.59 0.21 0.20 0.13 -0.34 1021 Partisanship Ideology Education Income Black Hispanic Tl T2 T3 T4 N Table entry is the ordered probit regression coefficient with linearized variable is scaled from 0 (not at all likely) to 1 (extremely Dependent < 0.14 -0.38 0.40 2.58 0.19 0.05 0.44 2.55 0.75 0.18 -0.18 0.06 0.27* 0.36 0.39 -0.11 0.23 0 5i*** 0. And.30 1." or "extremely likely" to participate in a rally.44 0.27 0.33** 0.5 on Sat.16 -0.23 0.15 0.16 0.37 2.32** 0.36 0.15 -0.81** 0.31 0.76*** 0.39 1.42 2.15 0. graphs set the independent variables to sample means or political act is signing a paper petition (70% reporting having done so).24* 0.29 1.99 0.42 -0.24* 0.04 0. 1.822 CINDY D.03 0.35 2.41 1.23 0.89 0.14 0.72 0.13 0.65*** 0.16.17 0.15 0.17 0.30 1022 Age Strength 0. the most popular to 27% across the range of Risk Acceptance.33 1022 Meeting 1. KAM Table 3 Risk Acceptance and Future Local Political Participation Paper Pol/Soc Donation Pol/Soc Meeting 0.85** 0.29 0.13 -0.03 0.13 0.07 0.47 0. or demonstration increases over fourfold. And.34*** 0.33** 0.29 0.20 0.32 2.19 0.14We see that as the level of Risk Acceptance rises.17 0.19 0. The graphs in the left-hand column of Figure 1 illus trate the magnitude of some of these effects.26* 0.27 0.19 0." "very likely.17 -0.35 1. For example.11 0.32 2.29 0.
yes. The average interitem pairwise correlation is 0.6 RiskAcceptance RiskAcceptance Would Sign a Paper Petition Has Attended Meeting on Political / Social Issue & 0.8 0.6 0. with risk-averse respondents being significantly more likely to have donated to a religious organization.6 >> 0.2 0.6 0.5 on Sat.16. with a minimum r of 0.02 (rally and religious donation) and a maximum r of 0.4 0." Risk Acceptance predict responses to past participation? Generally. religious donation takes on a completely different pattern.6 0. For future acts.4 0.2 0. This content downloaded from 138.RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Figure 1 Risk Acceptance Future and Political Participation in a Rally Participation Past Participation Government Meeting Would Participate Has Attended Local St 0. As in Table 3. The results in Table 4 show that Risk Acceptance positively pre dicts participation in nearly all of the political acts.6 RiskAcceptance RiskAcceptance Would Hand Out Information Has Recruited Someone Else to Attend Meeting ~ 0-6 ^ 0. although the results are 15Full question text and descriptives appear in Appendix Table A2.27.57 a political/social (attending do the same).4 0.6 0.6 RiskAcceptance RiskAcceptance Predicted cumulative probabilities probability with 95% confidence intervals. Estimates from Tables 3 and 4.26.e 0.4 0.4 0.15 Does a bit weaker than they were for future participation.6 0.2 0. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .4 0. meeting and inviting someone else to these acts).E 0.6 o. with statistically significant results in three of the models. predicted probability is the of the act being "Moderately likely" to "Extremely likely.6 2? 0.6 0.
There.82*** 0. respondents on the ANES 2008-2009 panel also reported turnout in the primary and general elec tions.43 0.24 -0. with other forms of participation.37 0.35 1021 Age Strength of Partisanship Ideology Education Income Black Hispanic Intercept N Table standard entry is the probit regression coefficient with linearized 1 (has done).19 0.19 -0. the probability of hav ing attended a local government meeting rises from 0.43 0.05 0.25 0.5 on Sat.29* 0. As before.12 -0.27** 0.17 -0.04 0.23 0.92 0.25** 0.40 1022 0. if anything.35 0.13 1.19 0.14 0.31 0.10.45 0.45 1022 Info Religious Donation Meeting Risk Acceptance Female Petition 0.30 -2.01.35 0. For example.20 0.27 0.09 0.26.20 0.22 0.04 0. And.11 0.27 -1.20 -0.36 along the range of Risk Acceptance.16 -0.18 0.24 0.02 0.53** 0.04 0.49** 0.20 1.28 0.17 -0.35 0.07 0.12 1. each citizen can only vote once per election.00** 0.02 0.01 0.24*** 0.22 -0. 0.26 -0.45*** 0.11 0. else to attend such a meet from 0. Probably the most important distinction between the prospective and retrospective participation is the fact that actual participation arises not just from in ternal motivations but also external opportunities (e.27* 0.24*** 0.14 0. Again.85 0..66 0.21 0.16 0.44 -0.18 0.31 0.22 -1.39 1022 error below.54 0 4i*** 0.12 1 52*** 0.17 0.17 0.35* 0.49 0.85** 0.18 -0.27 0.18 -0. the effect of risk attitudes on having made a religious donation is negative and highly significant.26 -0. Dependent *"p < 0.09 0.44 1021 -1.09 0. Finally.23 0.00 0.19 -0.21 -0.13 0.30 -0.35 1022 0.03 0.22 -0.26 0.22 -0.36 0.00 0.71*** 0.35 0.24 -1.16 0.51 0.18 0.29 0. Voting is also a different type of This content downloaded from 138. are a bit stronger in that set of responses. The cal/social issue increases from 0.13 0.20 -0.12 0.77*** 0.43 0. The battery on past participation was readministered in Wave 11 (November 2008) of the study.91*** 0. Turnout is a quite different phenomenon compared e-petition. we see dramatic in creases in the likelihood of participating across the range The results from prospective and retrospective partic ipation differ slightly from one another. as shown in Appendix Table A3.11 0.45 -0.22 0.13 0.20 0. KAM Table 4 Risk Acceptance Rally and Past Political Local Participation Paper E-petition 0.25 0.54*** 0. It is governed by the electoral calendar. The graphs in the right-hand column of Figure 1 illustrate some of these effects.40 1022 0.21 -0.02 0.25 -1.23 -1.94** 0.03*** 0.43 0.12 0.33 0. and it is an outlier in terms of high degree of reported participation.17 0.824 CINDY D.15 0.26 0. The probability of having attended a meeting on a politi whether they would be willing to engage in prospective acts rather than report whether they have engaged in such acts in the past.23 -0.47 1022 0.14 0.32 0.g.19 0.21 0.24 -0.37 Pol/Soc Donation Pol/Soc Meeting 1.46** 0.30* 0.66 for the most risk accepting.17 -0.17 0.20 0.19 -0. with the effect of Risk Acceptance magnitude being more consistent across are asked acts and of greater when respondents to ponder of Risk Acceptance. but whether they actually have done so is both a function of that willingness to act as well as having the opportunity to do so. signing a paper petition.16 j 24*** 0.22 -0.01** 0.40 1021 Recruit for Hand Out Meeting 1.27 for the most risk averse to 0. The results.19 -0.24 0. signing an risk accepting may be quite ready and willing to partici pate in politics. Leighley 1995.20 0.20 1.41 0. "p < 0.43** 0.07 0. Rosenstone and Hansen  2003).05.10 0.03 0. *p < 0. variable is scaled as 0 (has not done).11 0.30 0. and attending a po litical meeting).92 0.29 0.16. two-tailed.34* 0.12 1. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .23 0.46*** 0.18 0.47 0.86 along the range of Risk Acceptance.09 to 0.22 -0.47 to about 0. risk acceptance positively and significantly predicts having participated in four acts (a local governmental meeting.12 0.21 Q 79*** 0. the probability of having recruited someone ing quadruples.13 0.28 0.48 0.56 0.16 -0.
attending a campaign meeting or working on a local issue. turnout is the ex ception to the rule.g.47. Groves et al. I examine the relationship when we use an alternative measure of risk attitudes. independent sample: the SSI In ternet survey. the results from the ANES panel suggest that there is a general relationship between risk atti tudes and political participation. financial risk. the two coefficients relating Risk Acceptance to religious participation are negative and significant. for the political acts. and. as opposed to what they have done in the past.e.16 The questions about prospective participation were iden tical to those used in the ANES. When I estimate the same model specification on this modified set of dependent variables. The SSI study also provides opportunities to test against alternative explanations. s. who note that skills acquired in nonpolitical arenas can have consequential effects on the likelihood of partici pation. There is no significant relationship between turnout and risk attitudes—a pattern that I will probe further.e. risk attitudes are not a sig nificant predictor of turnout—in either the primary or general elections. given a This content downloaded from 138. In contrast to what we have found above. recreational risk. I have also shown that the structural and personality correlates of Risk Acceptance are similar across the datasets (Tables 2a. The relation ship between Risk Acceptance and participation is strong and positive when it comes to general political participa tion but strong and negative when it comes to religious donation: the risk accepting are not simply more active in all aspects of life. As shown in Figure 3. And. Additionally. the SSI instrument asked respondents to report on retrospec tive campaign participation. and Brady (1995). the SSI study also included Biais and Weber's (2006) 30-item Domain-Specific Risk Taking scale (DOSPERT).. the relationship between risk attitudes and participation is nearly entirely replicated using this alternative (but far lengthier) measure of risk attitudes. say.16.26. 2004). but the questions about retrospective participation were modified to refer to a text and distributions in Appendix The only slippage appears to occur with one of the two religious items. it is governed by bureaucratic rules. Those who are more risk accepting are more likely to participate across a variety of acts. gone to a meet 16Complete Table A2. in the course of their job. As 0. The coefficient on Risk Acceptance is insignificant for both types of turnout (b = 0. First. respondents were asked questions about both prospective and retrospective participation. the key results repli cate in full.07. there are some contextual contingencies to note as well. the results are stronger for hypothetical future participation than past participation. The results are stronger when individuals are asked about what they will do in the future. Schlozman. we still see a positive and significant relationship between risk attitudes and participation and an insignificant relationship between Risk Acceptance and turnout. the relationship between risk attitudes and participation generalizes to this longer alternative measure of risk attitudes. along with 95% confidence intervals. in the discussion about mechanisms for participation. but rather. In sum. all of the coefficients relating Risk Acceptance to political participation are positive and significant. or as part of their church activities. far more ritualistic in nature than. = fixed time frame (the past few election cycles or the past 12 months) rather than to refer to the respondent's entire life.below. I will return to explaining why turnout is different from other acts. The overall positive and significant relationship be tween risk attitudes and political participation replicates above. A composite risk-attitudes scale can be created from the 30-item measure. While risk attitudes predict individuals' motivations to participate. Finally. in order to improve the reliability of these retrospec tive self-reports (e. involvement in organizations. Does the relationship between risk attitudes and participation hold as well? In the SSI survey. an aspect of participation that was missing from the ANES panel instrumentation but is standard fare in ANES time series.41 for primary turnout. But. are more active when it comes to general political acts. question appear ing where they participated in decision making. SSI respondents were asked if. health/safety risk. and ethical risk.55 for gen eral turnout). 2b). the trans lation of motivation into action may depend upon other factors such as resources and opportunities. Thus. they had written a letter. As Figure 2 demonstrates. as with the ANES analyses. we find that the relationship between risk at titudes and participation is also different. Below. The SSI study also allows for a series of robustness checks for the relationship between risk attitudes and participation. = 0. in American life. Figure 2 depicts the ordered probit coefficients for Risk Acceptance from analyses of each of the 20 de pendent variables. b = —0. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The results hold for both past and future participation. discussed handily in a separate. and the one coefficient relating Risk Acceptance to turnout is insignificant.RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION act: it is typically performed alone (in the voting booth or by mail). The 30-item measure comprises five subscales that tap domain-specific risk attitudes regarding social risk.5 on Sat. s. I included a measure of civic skills based on Verba. I have already established that the SSI In ternet sample is similar to the ANES in demographics (Appendix Table Al) and in the distribution of Risk Ac ceptance (Table 1). and it is.
This content downloaded from 138. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . -•—i Future political donation Future political meeting Future Future political flyersFuture religious donation Voted - recruit pol meeting - i—m Coefficient on Risk Acceptance Ordered Source: probit coefficient SSI Study with 95% confidence interval.826 CINDY D.16.5 on Sat. i—«—i j—0__. 0 2 Figure 3 Risk Attitudes Risk Attitudes and Participation.26. KAM Figure 2 Risk Acceptance and Participation. SSI Study i • —« i i » • 1 1 j 1 Attended campaign rally Posted campaign sign Worked Made campaign donation Served Worked on local board issue official Protested on local as campaign volunteer - Contacted Signed petition Donated Future Future to religious org Future protest local meeting e-petition petition Future paper i-—♦-—i i—•—i i—®—. by Another Measure of Attended campaign rally Posted campaign sign Worked as Made campaign campaign volunteer donation board issue - Served Worked on local on local Contacted officialProtested - Signed petition Donated to religious org Future Future Future Future Future local protest meeting - Future e-petition paper petition donation political Future political meeting recruit pol meeting - Future political flyersFuture religious donation Voted 0 2 Coefficient on 30-item DOSPERT Ordered Source: probit coefficient SSI Study with 95% confidence interval.
Controlling for Civic Attended campaign rally Posted Worked as campaign sign campaign volunteer local board issue - Made campaign donation Served Worked on on local Contacted officialProtested Donated Future e-petition Future paper petition Future political donation Future Future political pol meeting meeting recruit to religious org Future protest Future local meeting Signed petition - Future political flyers Future religious donation Voted 0 Coefficient on Risk Acceptance Ordered Source: probit coefficient SSI Study with 95% confidence interval. Although risk attitudes are related to personality traits in the Five-Factor Model. Immedi ately following the prospective participation questions. Do risk attitudes contribute inde pendently of personality? The SSI survey included the Ten-Item Personality Inventory (Gosling. they are not subsumed by them. Recent work (Gerber et al. 2010. where Risk Acceptance again has a negative and significant effect. importantly for our purposes. above and beyond personality measures. and respondents were asked to indicate how important each reason was for their own participation in This content downloaded from 138.87) and included it in the standard participation model.RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Figure 4 Risk Acceptance Skills and Participation. Risk attitudes make an independent contribution to predicting political participation. which relates generally to political participa tion in the United States (Mondak 2010.5 on Sat. But. The relationship between risk attitudes and partici pation is also robust to inclusion of personality measures. following research by Verba. which relates to political acts that have a social aspect to them (Gerber et al. Rentfrow. Uncovering the Mechanisms The SSI study also allows for probing into the mechanism by which risk attitudes predict participation. Mondak 2008. and it has no significant effecton turnout. Risk Acceptance remains a significant predictor for nearly all general polit ical acts. and Extraversion. where there is a statistically insignificant relationship. Mondak et al. Schlozman. Risk Acceptance correlates significantly and positively with Extroversion and Open to participate in The of items included a politics. As Figure 5 shows. battery variety of plau sible reasons that individuals have reported participating in politics. and turnout. or planned or chaired an additive scale of responses (a = 0. Risk Acceptance positively and significantly predicts political participation. a meeting. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . As expected. The exceptions once again are the religious-donation items.26. it negatively and significantly pre dicts religious donation. the effects of Risk Acceptance are largely immune to the introduction of personality mea sures. which measures the "Big-Five" personality factors. 2011). Openness. I created ness. presentation. respondents were asked to indicate how important var Gerber et al. 2010. As shown in Table 2b. 2010). as shown in Figure 4. Mondak et al. and Brady ( 1995). and ious reasons were for their decisions Swann 2003). 2010) has demonstrated and Halperin that cer tain personality traits predict participation: particularly.16. civic skills are a significant predictor of participation in every single model.
It is ritualistic. Moreover. type person my attitudes predict the reasons people give for participating in politics? To answer this question. How important are people give for participating these reasons for whether or not you think you would participate reasons in the future?" Three "Somewhat response options followed: "Very important. as most theoretically likely to resonate with the risk accept ing: participating because "It's exciting to participate" and "I like to do new things.16. say." 17The complete text read as follows: "Here is a list of is the one about civic duty (r = 0. about that Indeed. We see that risk attitudes are most strongly related to novelty ("I like doing new things") and excitement ("It's exciting to participate").5 on Sat. attitudes. at least for those who are risk accepting: they like doing new and exciting things. Figure 6 depicts there is little relationship between voting and Risk Ac ceptance. and participating in politics provides an outlet to satisfy those motivations." and "Not at all important. performed opinion the reason alone.17 Two of these reasons were identified. The effect of Risk Acceptance on novelty is statistically distinguishable from its effect on espousal of the remain ing reasons. Furthermore. and often and turnout ticipating. This analysis provides us with one glimpse at the potential mechanism underlying participation. attending a local meeting or working on a campaign. and the standard The control probit variables included in previous that risk models. defined by bureaucratic rules. given we have shown that risk attitudes generally predict participa tion." important.26. KAM Figure 5 Risk Acceptance Personality and Participation. ordered coefficients suggest attitudes are positively related to espousal of all of the rea sons for participating—which is not surprising. the correlation between novelty and turnout is insignificant This content downloaded from 138. I model each reason for par ticipating as a function of Risk Acceptance.828 CINDY D. personality. these analyses help us understand why fulfillment of civic duty ("I have a duty as a citizen") or because they tap conscientiousness/obligation ("I am the of who does How well do risk share"). voting is a quite different act from.13)." Both tap aspects of novelty or sensation to risk seeking. Controlling for Attended campaign rallyPosted Worked as Made campaign donation Served Worked on local board issue official Protested on local - campaign sign volunteer campaign - Contacted Signed petition Donated Future to religious org Future protest local meeting e-petition Future - Future paper petitionFuture political donation Future Future political pol meeting meeting - Future political flyersreligious donation Voted 0 recruit - Future Coefficient on Risk Acceptance Ordered Source: probit coefficient SSI Study with 95% confidence interval. As mentioned above. Notice that risk attitudes are least related to participation based on a sense of duty. ex ante. politics. sorted by the size of the ordered probit coefficient. these best when we correlate for par turnout various correlates reasons with question in politics. What is more interesting is whether risk attitudes are more related to some reasons than others. as shown by the lack of overlap in the 95% confidence intervals. Others because were they expected are more to be less oriented related towards the ordered probit coefficients on Risk Acceptance along with their 95% confidence intervals. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .
The analyses of the mechanisms of participating suggest that risk-accepting individuals are strongly motivated by novelty and excitement—and such motivations are not Citizens vary in their risk attitudes. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the act of voting is the exception. Given that voting is most characterized as fulfillment of duty. (r = 0. from recruiting others to attend a local meeting well tied to the act of voting. The general relationship is accompanied by some interesting contextual contingencies. The article also uncovered an interesting contrast to distributing flyers. they are not altered by inclusion of personality measures. the act of voting is an ex ception to the rule. not the rule. And. from attending a rally to signing a petition. This finding supports the notion that want Discussion and Conclusions ing to participate matters. The dramatic reversal in the direction of effects is consistent This content downloaded from 138. Risk attitudes do a better job predicting future participation than past par ticipation. and given that duty least motivates risk seekers. I find that risk attitudes predict the extent to which citizens have participated in political life and the extent to which citizens believe they will participate in the future.26. skills. as the results in this article suggest.5 on Sat. people need resources and opportunities to participate as well. In order to participate. but motivation alone is not sufficient to bring about actual participation.RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Figure 6 Mechanisms Participation Underlying Risk Acceptance and I like doing new things It's exciting to participate You never know how things will turn out I want to learn about politics & gov - I am the kind of person who does my share There's a chance of making a difference - I want to work with people I enjoy - I want to work with people who share my ideals I have a duty as a citizen - Ordered Source: probit coefficient SSI Study with 95% confidence interval. we can see why. Both the ANES panel and the SSI analyses show that while risk attitudes predict general political participation in campaigns and in governmental acts. And. In both the ANES panel data and the SSI survey. They hold up when we include an alternative (but significantly longer) measure of risk attitudes. They withstand inclusion of controls for civic between political participation and religious donation. this variation in risk attitudes matters for political participation.003). the motivation that correlates least well with risk acceptance. The act of voting is tied most closely to a sense of duty. And. risk attitudes do not significantly predict turnout. risk accepting respondents are significantly less likely to make religious donations than risk-averse respondents. and the trade-offs between benefits and costs. in the relationship between risk attitudes and political participation. I argue that this relationship can be understood within a psychophysical risk-return framework that specifies that individuals are motivated by the benefits of participating in a risky act. These general findings replicate in an independent dataset. the costs of participating.16. The risk accepting are more likely to engage in a host of politically relevant acts.
by individu als en masse. within the approach-avoidance framework raised here. of God between Pascal's cannot risk aversion wager and religiosity is a classic the existence be proven. Miller and Hoffman by supposing argue that risk attitudes are partially determinative of levels of religiosity. (Miller though though to lose and there is a relationship Hoffman 1995).5 on Sat. in order to avoid the biggest of all possible harms (eternal damnation). and Maestas and Pollock (2010) show that risk attitudes interact with economic evaluations to pre dict views on Social Security privatization. compared with the risk averse. Risk attitudes are also relevant to other aspects of po litical life.CINDY D. such that initial responses to a frame (which are anchored in part by Risk Acceptance) shape future responses to alternatively framed policies. Other acts offer more direct messages. at any time of the year.16. while the risk averse prefer policies that are framed in certain terms. rather than religiosity affecting risk preferences. arguing 72). their overrepresenta tion among the participatory public makes it all the more likely that their policy preferences will be overrepresented as well. risk attitudes are con sequential for electoral choices as well (Kam and Simas 2012. 25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . For example. Such a pattern could be normatively troubling when we compare the act of voting with other participatory acts. Moreover. Tomz and van Houweling 2009). Another possible interpretation is that the risk averse donate to religious organizations in order to maximize their afterlife utility (Azzi and Ehrenberg 1975). The contrast between the types of variables dependent may suggest that there is something inherently stimulating or interesting about political life that appeals to the risk accepting and sensation seeking. In addition. KAM with work identifying the unique determinants of reli gious giving from nonreligious giving (e. and they situate their argument within a larger literature is. this raises the possibility of bias in democratic representation.18 Not donating to a religious organization is a "gamble" (because it invites the possibility of divine retribution)—a gamble that the risk accepting are willing to take but the risk averse are not. and is constrained by the electoral calendar. can be exercised multiple times.g. The risk accepting prefer policies that are framed in proba bilistic terms. Even though risk accepting people are primarily motivated to participate in politics by novelty and excitement. If risk attitudes shape both public opinion and par ticipation in political life. Iannaccone a broad range of policies. Further. can only be exercised once. Ehrlich and Maestas (2010) have demonstrated that risk attitudes predict policies on free trade. that "religiosity This content downloaded from 138. in part. Hrung 2004. Eckles and Schaffner (2011) show that risk attitudes can be primed in foreign policy opinions. since one has everything to gain and nothing that God exists. they find that Risk Acceptance undercuts susceptibility to multiple framing scenarios. Kam and Simas (2010) have found that Risk Acceptance predicts susceptibility to whether policies are framed in probabilistic or certain terms. The act of voting is a singularly blunt instrument for communicating pref erences. risk attitudes should play a role in public opinion across 18 Indeed. example: it is better to live as God exists. or. a risk analysis strategy" (1995. the risk accepting policies are likely overrepresented in political acts outside the act of voting.26. 1998). To the extent that public reflect the voice of the people..
25 Jan 2014 13:46:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .e.male.26. 1 = female] Partisanship in 7 categories [0 = Strong GOP to 1 — Strong Dem] = Ideology in 7 categories [0 = Extremely Conservative to 1 Extremely Liberal] Education: Proportion in category <HS High school degree Some college degree degree income: Proportion in category Bachelor's Graduate Household <$15.5 on Sat.16.) Age in years Female [0 .RISK ATTITUDES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Appendix Table Al ANES 2008-2009 Panel and SSI Survey Respondent Characteristics Demographics: Mean (s.000 $15-$35K $35-$50K $50-$75K $75-$125K >$125K Race/Ethnicity: Proportion in category White Black Hispanic Other N This content downloaded from 138.
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