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Voting is Good for Society, but is it Also Good for You?

A hand reaches down for a "vote" button, which is sitting on a table with other buttons that say "vote" or have the American flag. Next to the buttons there are three small American flags on wood dowels.

By Dave Derezotes, PhD, LCSW, Professor, University of Utah College of Social Work

 

Often we read that voting is good for the community, and arguably that is reason enough to vote.  However, there is also reason to believe that voting is good for both collective and individual well-being.

The late Kenneth Keniston, a social psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, published his seminal book Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth back in 1968, when the nation was in a politically-polarized state over the Vietnam War and changing social norms.  His research suggested that commitment to a social cause larger than one’s self is associated with her or his overall well-being.  

A photo of Dr. David DerezotesToday of course, we are in the midst of another period of political polarization.  Our nation’s youth are again being challenged to participate in social causes, and one of the most effective forms of participation is to vote in the upcoming elections, which are elections that many observers say are among the most important of our era.

Each of us, not just our youth, are currently being challenged in these stressful times, to avoid our habitual patterns of response to stress, which might include such behaviors as social withdrawal or participation in a favorite addiction.  One of the ways we can resist these behaviors is to take actions of social responsibility, and thus shift our focus from our own suffering to the well-being of the community. 

Voting is one approach to being socially responsible that can have measurable effects.

 

For further reading on this topic, Dr. Dave recommends:
https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/walter-goodman-2/young-radicals-notes-on-committed-youth-by-kenneth-keniston/
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/voting-good-for-health-election-day_n_2078569

 

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Last Updated: 10/6/20