Students at New York University claim their voting rights are worth a lot to them,
Only 20 percent [of NYU students surveyed] said they’d exchange their vote for an iPod touch. But 66 percent said they’d forfeit their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said they’d give up the right to vote forever for $1 million.
The most obvious explanation for this is that you can’t always trust people to do what they say they will do. Talk is cheap. I find it extremely unlikely that more than 1% of students would not give up their voting rights for $1 million. If some people value their voting rights in excess of $1 million how voting come voter turnouts are around 30%? These students are not giving realistic answers.
Now let me draw a parallel between surveys about voting and elections. In both cases the costs of answering “incorrectly” are very low. In surveys there is no individual benefit for answering truthfully. In elections, the material benefits of an individually preferable outcome to any individual voter are significant, but the individual benefit of voting intelligently is very small because of the tiny impact that an individual vote has on the outcome of the election. However, In both cases there are significant psychological benefits to answering or voting in ways that feel good. In the case of survey about voting, it feels good to fool yourself into thinking that you value your voting rights very highly because thinking that you are a civically minded person is pleasurable. In the case of elections, it feels good to vote for proposals which sound good without investing many resources into determining if proposals are actually a good idea.