Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More disturbing looks at the voting mind

Five-year-olds can predict election outcomes based on photos of the candidates. We can even guess whether a face belongs to a Democrat or a Republican at a rate better than chance, according to a forthcoming study out of Princeton.

Source. The latter study doesn't surprise me at all. Back before I was a monarchist, I sometimes worked at the voting polls. The day of a primary election, I found that after just a couple of hours, I could predict with a high degree of accuracy whether I was going to be asked for a Republican or Democratic ballot. Not only are conservatives better dressed, we're also much better looking. I have given credence to the research indicating that political beliefs are at least partly genetic ever since.

The study, conducted by psychologists John Antonakis and Olaf Dalgas at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, shows that Swiss children as young as five years can predict which candidates are more likely to win French parliamentary elections.

This finding contributes to a large and growing body of evidence, coming from many research groups, which shows that voters seem to be heavily influenced by a candidate’s appearance, and in particular the kinds of personality traits that a politician’s face projects. This result is strange considering the political stakes. We may agree that one candidate looks more approachable or intelligent than another, but why do we then allow these superficial impressions to guide our political preferences?


If you think about it, voting in a large national election – such as the US Presidential election – is a supremely irrational act, because the probability that your vote will make a difference in the outcome is infinitesimally small. The closest Presidential election in history was the 1960 contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. In that election, Kennedy’s margin in the popular vote over Nixon was 118,574. Disregarding for the moment the complexity of the electoral college system, it means that the probability that any one voter will influence the outcome of the 1960 election was 1/118,574 = .00000843355.

Why Do People Vote?

1 comment:

ZAROVE said...

I've always known this. There is an old saying that in an lection, the tallest candidate wins, and while not always true, it is usually the Handsome one that wins. We don't want an ugly president.

Voting is an irraional act, which basially caters to our emotions. The theory behind it, as expressed by Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, is that an informed population will look at all the facts and the Candidates, examine them, and vote for the one they think will be best suited for the job, or who will best represent the agenda they themselves support.

This is sheer popycock.

I've known people who voted based soey on the party affiliation of the Candidate. For example, I know someone hwo is Pro-life, Pro-gun, and pro-traditional Marriage who voted for an extremely Liberal Republican Candidate, because, even though he disagrees with said Candidate, the Candidae wore the brand name he labled himself, and his reaosnign was that he had to support his party.

I have met peopel who voted for Obama based soley on his Aura of respectability and responcibilityh, and the pwoer of his speaking voice, and because he looked mor presidential. THis are qualities I'd look for in an actor playign President on TV, NOT fo the real thing.

But hey, he was popular.

I do think that Elections are irraitonal and mainly infleunced by emotional factors, and the results are usually poor.

That said, I disagree withthe aritlce you posted. Nto to sound like a Republican but the author used the term "Magical thinking" all too much, and not all fo the thinking behidn why peopel vote was all that irraitonal, or even magical. EG, he claimed that the argument that "What if everyone thought that way" was somehow Magical thinking, and that it means that if I dont personally vote no oen else will, and if I do all will. No one I know of thinks that way, even those hwo use that argument.

Most of them know full well I don't vote, though I've managed to be respected anyway after the lengthy discussions on my actual reasons for not voting. They also know of the non-voters who, unlike me, simply can't be bothered to turn out at the polling stations.

They just think that, while their vote may not seemto amount to much all on its own, they contribute to the larger collective of votes, and fif no one voted then the hwole system collapses.

I don't think that blog entry was very accurate or a good examination of the voting mind. In fact, I'm a Monarhcist who doen't even vote himself and thinks VOtign is irraitonal, btu wanst convinced further than it was irrational by it. I doubt I'd be moved away from my position for votign if I did beleive in it.

Just saying.