Political Psychology

In today’s heated debate scene in politics, presidential candidates have to speak and present themselves in a way that appeals to the American people. It would be very difficult for a politician to gain the vote of the people by telling them the bitter and ugly truths that they don’t want to hear. There is science behind this.

When a candidate is on stage talking about a key issue in an emotionally charged way, pandering to a certain group in hopes of gaining their vote, it travels past the logical part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, and enters through the limbic system. Which is the more primitive and less rational part of the brain. The masses of people don’t care how rational it is. They don’t care to do much needed research, they don’t want to engage in intellectual discourse and compare view points and try to come to a conclusion through an honest debate. They just want to be told what they want to hear. They just want to get what they want in life without having to bust their butts to get it. Thankfully, this isn’t you. I write in hopes to reach an audience of mostly entrepreneurs and hard-working people. The kind of people that are willing to do the dirty work and spend long hours working to make progress in a new startup or some new project they’re pumped about. 
 Sir Frances Bacon had it figured out in 1620. He called it “Confirmation Bias”. In my own words; when a politician says something that contradicts one’s preexisting emotions and memories, he is surely in trouble. The statements made enter the brain, and the brain compares it to its preexisting beliefs on the topic. If the new information contradicts them, the brain reacts in a very negative way emotionally. You see, everyone carries a memory of biases, stereotypes, and preexisting beliefs around in their brains. When they are deeply rooted, it is very hard to uproot them, and most people don’t have the integrity to do so. They are only looking for confirmation of what they already believe.

There is a clear difference between evaluating information in search of a conclusion, and searching for information that supports a pre-determined conclusion. Robert Cialdini teaches in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, that we naturally value consistency more than we do being right. This causes cognitive dissonance. If you don’t already know, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort or stress caused by two or more contradicting beliefs, the confrontation of facts that contradict one’s preexisting beliefs, ideas or principles, or performing a task that contradicts one’s preexisting beliefs, ideas, or principles. 
 Studies show that we are more likely to buy a product from a salesperson that we consider to be attractive. It makes sense that people might choose one candidate over another based on looks. Likability also can play a role in who we vote for. Ever since the first televised presidential debates in 1960 with John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, looks, charisma, and overall charm has played a big role in the presidential elections. When the voters can see the candidates speaking and engaging in discourse, they can decide within moments who they think is the more likeable character. Sadly, this is the deciding factor for some people.

I try my best not to play the partisan game when deciding who to vote for, because I don’t want to be the guy who just votes for one given party 100% of the time, despite the actual policies of the candidates. I believe that it is an act of intellectual integrity to vote for your policies rather than your party. Sadly, you probably won’t find someone that you agree with 100% on every notable issue, so I find it best to find a balance between what a candidate believes, and how much of an overall positive difference I believe they could make. 
 Social Proof is one of the key factors in how an election is decided. If the media all points one direction politically, the masses of people consuming the media will be encouraged to vote for that given candidate, and looked down upon for voting against them. Especially with all of the different media platforms that exist in 2016; TV, radio, tabloids, magazines, social media, blogs, etc. “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much” — Walter Lippmann. I believe this quote summarizes my talking point here. I published an article about two months ago called “Nonconformity is The New Conformity”. My main goal with it was to point out the irony in considering yourself a hipster or a rebel, and yet voting for the candidate that the media is telling you to vote for. Some people were very kind and gave it some positive feedback. I’ll leave a link to it at the end of this article.


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