Political Psychology

The link between winning elections and satisfaction with democracy is bigger for men than it is for women

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New research has found that electoral victory leads to a bigger boost in satisfaction with democracy for men than for women. The findings appear in the journal Electoral Studies.

“There is a lot of research showing that people who vote for victorious parties and candidates feel more positively about democracy, while the reverse is true of electoral losers. This is important, as democracies are stronger when seen as legitimate by the public,” said study author Shane P. Singh, a professor at the University of Georgia.

“There is also good reason to believe that men and women are affected differently by electoral victory. My coauthors, Neil Williams and Alexandra Snipes, and I wanted to investigate this.”

Using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, the researchers found that people who voted for a victorious candidate tended to report being more satisfied with the way democracy works in their country than those who voted for the losing candidate. But the effect on of electoral victory on satisfaction with democracy was smaller for women than for men.

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems dataset includes nationally-representative post-election surveys from dozens of countries.

“The link between winning elections and satisfaction with democracy is bigger for men than it is for women. This is likely because men relish victory more due to gender-based differences in political socialization and because gender imbalances in political representation lead women to feel that they do not have as much ‘skin in the game,'” Singh told PsyPost.

When there was a higher percentage of women in the nation’s legislature, the researchers found there was a smaller gender gap in winner boosts in satisfaction with democracy.

But the study — like all research — includes some caveats.

“While the associations we detect are robust, this research was completely observational and based on post-election survey data, meaning we cannot be certain that the gender-based disparity in the impact of winning on satisfaction is not driven by some uncontrolled factors,” Singh explained.

The study, “Gender differences in the impact of electoral victory on satisfaction with democracy“, was published September 30, 2020.

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