Economics professor's research appears in Nature Human Behavior

Insufficient sleep is a health concern, and its effects reach beyond physical health. While a lack of sleep is known to negatively impact some types of behaviors, relatively little is known about how it impacts civic engagement and social behaviors vital for a healthy democracy.

Research from Appalachian State University professor of economics David Dickinson has newly explored the effects of sleep -- or lack thereof -- on prosocial behavior. Led by Dickinson and co-authors/political scientists John Holbein (Brigham Young University) and Jerome Schafer (Ludwig-Maximilians University), the study found that insufficient sleep predicts lower voter turnout and that those manipulated to short term increased sleepiness are less willing to vote, sign petitions and donate to charities.

“The advantage of this paper is that we not only examined real-world expressions of prosocial behaviors and civic engagement, which connects more directly with real-world decision makers, but we also used multiple methodologies to show a consistent result," said Dickinson. "Each different data set and methodology has its strengths and weaknesses, but the result is all the more compelling when all point to the same conclusion.”

The authors' findings highlight that there likely exists significant negative consequences of current societal sleep habits on civic engagement and important measures of social capital that have spillover effects in society. Learn more about the findings and methodologies in the paper, Insufficient sleep reduces voting and other prosocial behaviours -- recently published in Nature Human Behaviour. 

About Research in the Walker College of Business

Walker College of Business faculty produce and disseminate extensive research through both academic and professional communities. In the last five years, faculty members have published approximately 400 peer-reviewed academic journal articles, 130 conference proceedings and made more than 400 conference and professional presentations in 170 different venues. In total, the faculty has produced more than 700 individual intellectual contributions in basic discovery research, more than 400 contributions in applied or integrative research and 240 contributions in teaching and learning research. For more information, visit

About the Department of Economics at Appalachian State University

The Department of Economics in Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business is an intellectually vibrant place for students and faculty. As a research-intensive department committed to student learning, the department offers a wide range of courses that provide critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, complemented by student-faculty research collaboration. Our faculty members are engaged in research that contributes locally and globally in areas related to energy, environmental, development, trade, health, sports and tourism. The Department of Economics is ranked among the leading U.S. economics departments for research productivity, and is particularly strong in environmental and experimental economics. Learn more at

Published: Apr 11, 2019 11:11am