How the Polls Can Be Both Spot On and Dead Wrong: Using Choice Blindness to Shift Political Attitudes and Voter Intentions
PLoS ONE 8 (4):e60554. doi:10.1371/journal.pone (2013)
AbstractPolitical candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for ideological change. Based on the wisdom of opinion polls, this might seem like a good idea. But do most voters really hold their political attitudes so firmly that they are unreceptive to persuasion? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on the manipulated issues. Finally, we summarized their survey score, and asked for their voter intention again. The results showed that no more than 22% of the manipulated replies were detected, and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed our altered political survey score. Furthermore, the final voter intention question indicated that as many as 48% (69.2%) were willing to consider a left-right coalition shift. This can be contrasted with the established polls tracking the Swedish election, which registered maximally 10% voters open for a swing. Our results indicate that political attitudes and partisan divisions can be far more flexible than what is assumed by the polls, and that people can reason about the factual issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change.
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References found in this work
Lifting the Veil of Morality: Choice Blindness and Attitude Reversals on a Self-Transforming Survey.Lars Hall, Petter Johansson & Thomas Strandberg - 2012 - PLoS ONE 7 (9):e45457. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.
How Actions Create – Not Just Reveal – Preferences.Dan Ariely & Michael I. Norton - 2008 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (1):13-16.
Citations of this work
Technologically scaffolded atypical cognition: The case of YouTube’s recommender system.Mark Alfano, Amir Ebrahimi Fard, J. Adam Carter, Peter Clutton & Colin Klein - 2020 - Synthese (1-2):1-24.
Disagreement and the Division of Epistemic Labor.Bjørn G. Hallsson & Klemens Kappel - 2020 - Synthese 197 (7):2823-2847.
Confabulation Does Not Undermine Introspection for Propositional Attitudes.Adam J. Andreotta - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4851-4872.
The Selective Laziness of Reasoning.Emmanuel Trouche, Petter Johansson, Lars Hall & Hugo Mercier - 2015 - Cognitive Science 40 (8):2122-2136.
Knowing Our Reasons: Distinctive Self‐Knowledge of Why We Hold Our Attitudes and Perform Actions.Sophie Keeling - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (2):318-341.
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