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Gender Differences in Vote Choice: Social Cues and Social Harmony as Heuristics

Journal article
Authors E. Harteveld
Stefan Dahlberg
A. Kokkonen
W. Van der Brug
Published in British Journal of Political Science
Volume 49
Issue 3
Pages 1141-1161
ISSN 0007-1234
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1141-1161
Language en
Keywords political behavior, gender, social cues, radical-right, voting-behavior, united-states, gap, parties, europe, immigration, attitudes, politics, support, Government & Law
Subject categories Political Science


Some parties are more popular among men, while other parties attract more female voters. This article proposes that these differences can be partially explained by two recurring gender differences in the socio-psychological literature. It argues that men's generally lower sensitivity to social cues makes them more likely to vote for stigmatized and small parties, whereas women's greater concern with social harmony is expected to make them less likely to vote for extreme parties. The models are tested at the individual and party levels using three waves of Comparative Study of Electoral Systems data from twenty-eight countries. Ceteris paribus, men are more likely than women to vote for parties that are socially stigmatized or ideologically extreme. This has consequences for the current understanding of gender gaps in voting, and reiterates that voting has important social aspects.

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