Monday, September 17, 2012

Do implicit attitudes predict actual voting behavior?

How can psychologists and pollsters predict the voting behavior of undecided voters? Is there is any hope for us Obama supporters who worry about the effectiveness of the clever framing of the conservative marketing aimed at undecided voters that pushes emotional buttons with complete disregard for rationality or facts? Friese et al. show that explicit attitudes predict voting behavior better than implicit attitudes for both decided and undecided voters, while implicit attitudes predict voting behavior better for decided than undecided voters. While this is not to say that explicit attitudes can't also be based on irrationality, it does argue against the power of implicit attitudes of which the voter is unaware. Here is their abstract:

The prediction of voting behavior of undecided voters poses a challenge to psychologists and pollsters. Recently, researchers argued that implicit attitudes would predict voting behavior particularly for undecided voters whereas explicit attitudes would predict voting behavior particularly for decided voters. We tested this assumption in two studies in two countries with distinct political systems in the context of real political elections. Results revealed that (a) explicit attitudes predicted voting behavior better than implicit attitudes for both decided and undecided voters, and (b) implicit attitudes predicted voting behavior better for decided than undecided voters. We propose that greater elaboration of attitudes produces stronger convergence between implicit and explicit attitudes resulting in better predictive validity of both, and less incremental validity of implicit over explicit attitudes for the prediction of voting behavior. However, greater incremental predictive validity of implicit over explicit attitudes may be associated with less elaboration.

3 comments:

Phlegm said...

Can you give an example of an implicit attitude vs an explicit attitude?

Psychiatrist said...

As a psychiatrist I can explain:
Implicit Attitude - unacknowledged attitudes external to a person’s awareness which nonetheless have measurable effects on people’s response times to stimuli.

Example: A version of an Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT) has participants make the split-second decision whether to “shoot” intruders in a video game based on whether or not they are holding a gun; many people exhibit an implicit bias toward blacks, manifested as faster and more frequent decisions to “shoot” when the intruder pictured is a black man.

Explicit Attitudes - a person’s conscious views toward people, objects, or concepts. That is, the person is aware of the feelings he or she holds in a certain context.

Example: His grandfather is unapologetically racist; the man makes no attempt to hide his negative views toward members of various ethnic minorities.

Deric Bownds said...

Thanks for responding to Plegm's question, I somehow missed seeing it yesterday.

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