Essay on Behavioral Models in Political Behavior

Essay on Behavioral Models in Political Behavior

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The analysis of political behavior operates under the assumption that political behavior is not a special form of human activity, independent of what is known about general social behavior. (Political Behavior, 1968) The majority of political behavioral research is focused on identifying not only an individual’s behavior, but also with predicting the behavior of a group of people. It is understood that these groups do not exist without individuals; therefore, it is the individual dynamic that constitutes a collective group action. This is the focus of political behavioral research. The three widely accepted behavioral models of voter choice are: the sociological model, the social-psychological model, and the rational choice model. These three models diverge in methodology and application of research, but each has provided important data regarding the factors that influence voter choice.
The first behavioral model is the sociological model, or the Columbia model. The sociological model is a product of the research conducted to explain the voting behavior of the 1940 presidential election. This model surveyed the residents of Erie County, Ohio and drew conclusions based on the data collected. “The sociological model uses group level characteristics such as SES, religion, and place of residence to explain how people vote” (Bond & Smith, 417). There are six sociological factors that are viewed as group characteristics that impact vote choice, and they are race, religion, gender, income, education, and family voting history.
The important findings of the researched conducted includes, but is not limited to, determining that people tend to vote in the same way that they and their family has voted previously. The sociologica...

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..., the assumption that one must be informed in order to make a rational decision, thus following the pattern of rational choice, is highly conflictual with the research indicating that the majority of Americans are simply not well informed about politics. It is because of this limitation, that the social-psychological model, as well as the rational choice model, “continue to provide the most accepted explanations of voting behavior.” (Bond & Smith, 420).
Being that no one model rejects the other models and methods of determining voting behavior, it is safe to say that all three models have played an important role in the development of the field of political science. The social-psychological model, as well as the rational choice model, are the two models that best predict voting behavior, as well as establishing possible causes of why people vote the way they do.

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