People respond predictably to incentives.
Consider the young boy who morally and emotionally believes the right thing to do is to open the door for a girl.
Engaging in this behavior, he shows understanding of the concept of reciprocity. Reciprocity meaning give and take. In this scenario we understand reciprocity entails a “thank you” and perhaps a smile.
Reciprocity includes both a reward and an incentive. The “thank you” rewards the behavior and gives the incentive to continue the behavior.
Consider the boy engages in this behavior several times, but does not receive a response. She passes through without acknowledgement. We understand the absence of reward and the incentive will eventually extinguish the boy’s moral behavior.
This is not a moral or emotional response by the boy, only a predictable human response. As humans we thrive in an arena of reward and incentive, but we starve when neither exists.
Consider the opposite. The boy continually, or at least 70 percent of the time, receives a “thank you” and perhaps a smile. We observe the reward as well as the incentive and predictably presume that the boy will continue to engage in the behavior.
People respond predictably to incentives as well as reciprocity.
What if we applied this concept to the relationship between the voters and elected officials?
Consider the community member who morally and emotionally believes the right thing to do is to use their time, resources and abilities to contribute to the betterment of the community. They run for local office with conviction.
We understand the reciprocal behavior expected, like a “thank you”, is for the electorate of the community to play their part in the betterment of the community. The best way to do this is by voting.
When we vote, our actions provide a reward to those who serve and also the incentive to continue to serve as best as possible.
Consider the scenario where 70 percent of the community does not reciprocate to the elected official or those who are running. Only 30 percent say, “Thank you,” by voting. Again we understand that the lack of reciprocity, predictably, will extinguish the original, moral behavior. It is very understandable why some elected officials seem to not respond the public’s desires.
We understand that at some point the natural human response will cause the elected official to question their service to the community when there is a true lack of reciprocity, reward and incentive.
Consider where 80-90 percent of the community engages in a reciprocal behavior by participating in their civic responsibility. We observe a very dramatic reward and incentive to those who choose to serve the community.
The sheer numbers of “thank you” not only provide a great reward for their service, but also provide serious incentives to do the best they can. With so many people participating, the elected official has a great incentive to do their level best or face the collected consequences at the next ballot box.