Story incentive: The effect of national stories on voter turnout

Shaul R. Shenhav, Tamir Sheafer, Alon Zoizner, Anita Van Hoof, Jan Kleinnijenhuis, Yael Rivkah Kaplan, David Nicolas Hopmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contends that an important driver of turnout is the national stories embraced by citizens. We suggest the notion of 'story incentive,' whereby adopting a group's story components-those that connect the past, the future, and prominent national characters-motivates individuals to participate in that group's political activities. Leaning on narrative theories and studies on voter turnout, we develop and test hypotheses regarding the effect of story components on the likelihood of voting. Our measurements of story incentives are based on election surveys and encompass Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. The results support the main story-incentive hypothesis. We discuss the theoretical ramifications of the connection between adherence to national stories and voter turnout.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-264
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 1400/14) and Danish Council for Independent Research (FSE) (Grant No. 0602-02106B). The authors would like to thank James Stanyer, Yaron Ezrahi, Pazit Ben-Nun Blum, the editors of European Political Science Review and four anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:


  • narrative theory
  • national stories
  • turnout
  • voting behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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