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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2017


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.

© Cambridge University Press 2017 

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Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam (email:; Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, and Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg (email:; Department of Political Science, Aarhus University (email:; Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam (email: Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: doi:10.7910/DVN/XQKBY6 and online appendices are available at


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