LibLink: Mark Pack – Voters get to choose how they think

Over on the Biteback Publishing website, The Voice‘s Mark Pack has been writing about how voters make their decisions:

One of the findings increasingly coming out from research into how we make decisions is that often we make a decision using our subconscious and only afterwards come up with a justification for it. Our subconscious decides, our conscious rationalises.

It is an intriguing – and in some ways, scary – finding, that is best illustrated by a clever experiment where people were shown photographs of two similar, but different, people and asked to pick which one was the most attractive. They were then given that photograph and asked to explain the reason for their decision.

Except that what the researchers did was try out a bit of sleight of hand, so sometimes the person was actually given the photograph of the other person. The vast majority of the time, people did not notice that the photograph has been swapped and, moreover, went on to give detailed reasons as to why they had picked that photograph – even though they had selected the other one.

What does that mean for election campaigns? Read Mark’s full post to find out more.

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5 Comments

  • paul barker 15th Aug '12 - 1:02pm

    Interesting piece which raises another question – when voters do their thinking ?
    From looking at the oddly contradictory answers to polling I have come to the conclusion that either voters restrict their political thinking to around election time or at least keep it unconscious till then.

  • Richard Dean 15th Aug '12 - 1:29pm

    Even if the subconscious decides, it may still be a rational decision – a correct one for that individual. Our conscious uses concepts and steps we have been taught, and so is rather limited in what it can do. Using it as the servant of the subconcious, rather than the master, is, to my mind (joke!), a healthy and rational way of living.

    But anyway, how did researchers come to that conclusion? How can a researcer tell whether someone else has come to a decision subconciously or consciously? Presumably they have made a judgement, which seems to suggest they may have been describing only themselves – rationalising their own subconcious decisions.

  • Murdoch and Co had this one sorted long ago, they have been leading reader by the nose for years, even sometimes telling them directly how to vote. But of course nobody thinks this has any effect on them, we all like to believe we make up our own minds. Witness the drip-drip effect of comments orchestrated by our opposition.. even our own supporters believing some of it that I won’t repeat… – there are, even now, voters out there who believe we don’t have any policies!!
    What is really vital, now, is that HQ finds a way of keeping ALL our members informed of what our Parliamentarians are doing and why, not by expecting them to check the website regularly(if only that could be made simpler). We need to enable our membership to become advocates and ambassadors for the party, rather than apologists, by ensuring they get a weekly bulletin of news and updates.
    I know – why don’t they send LibDem News to every member? If they were to do that then the circulation numbers would enable them to get some decent insert advertising that would pay for it, and maybe even fund a free monthly magazine which could give free editorial space to our SAOs, …now there’s an idea .. why hasn’t anyone thought of that before.?

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