Mind 2012-elections

Published on November 5th, 2012 | by No Artificial

Why Your Brain Is Not Rational About Obama and Romney

How your unconscious mind rules your voting preferences.

According to Leonard Mlodinow’s new book, “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior”, our preference in politicians and all our judgments and perceptions reflect the workings
of our mind on two levels: the conscious, of which we are aware, and the unconscious, which is hidden from us. For instance the higher-pitched voices are judged by subjects as more nervous, much less honest than speakers with lower-pitched voices and that speaking a little faster and louder, with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, leads people to judge someone to be enthusiastic, intelligent and knowledgeable.

Over the past two decades scientists have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden,
or subliminal, workings of the mind. The result of this explosion of study is a new science of the unconscious and a sea change in our understanding of how the subliminal mind affects our choices.

One research shown subjects with campaign flyers featuring black-and-white shots of models posing as Democrats or Republicans in fictional congressional races; half seemed able and qualified, whereas the other half did not, as rated by volunteers before the experiment. The brochures incorporated the candidate’s name, party affiliation, education, occupation, political experience and three position statements. To control for party preference, half the subjects were shown the more proper-looking candidate as a Democrat, and the other half saw him as a Republican.
Results: 59% of the vote went to the candidate with the more competent appearance in spite of other skills and qualifications.

This study confirms what was observed during the first televised presidential debate on September 26, 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.
Well rested and tan from campaigning in California, Kennedy was glowing, like an “athlete come to receive his wreath of laurel,” journalist Howard K. Smith noted. On the other hand, Nixon had been campaigning right up to the debate and had been hospitalized for a knee infection that had left him with a 102-degree fever and looking pale and weak.

Around 70 million people watched Kennedy debate Nixon. Millions more listened on the radio.

According to a research released in the trade journal “Broadcasting”, those who saw the debate on TV thought Kennedy won, the majority of the people who heard the debate over the radio believed Nixon had won it. For example, when New York Herald Tribune writer Earl Mazo first witnessed reactions to the debate at a conference, he observed, “Nixon was best on radio simply because his deep, resonant voice conveyed more conviction, command, and determination than Kennedy’s higher-pitched voice and his Boston-Harvard accent. But on television, Kennedy looked sharper, more in control, more firm.” These findings were replicated in a 2003 study in which subjects who viewed the debate were more likely to think Kennedy won than those who listened to it.

The idea that appearance might be so influential is remarkable in light of the billions of dollars spent each election year to advertise presidential candidates’ information, views or qualifications.

Let’s hope that tomorrow, as voters all over the United States head to the polls to elect, they will engage their rational brains to vote the issues and not the person.



“Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior”, Leonard Mlodinow

Scientific American

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