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January 24, 2006


Emotional politics: I want to believe!

Psychologists at Emory have some recent findings about how strongly partisan people respond to criticisms of their party's figures. Their responses are emotionally-based, not rational.

Participants in the study were all men who identified strongly with either party. They were shown clips of their preferred candidate from the 2004 election stating one position, then given statements from each candidate reversing their opinion (Bush talked about his relationship with Ken Lay; Kerry about social security and whether it should be overhauled.) As participants dealt with these contradictions by condemning the other party's candidate and letting their own off the hook, pleasure centers and regulators of negative emotion were activated, while the more rational cortex was quiet.

It's no secret that emotions play a role in our political identification--the Republican party certainly makes good use of hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the dealth penalty in appealing to its supporters.

But don't the Democrats have a few issues they could bring up at every election that might elicit some strong emotional responses, too? Let's think for a minute here.

I'm getting emotional just thinking about it.

categories: Politics
posted by amy at 1:26 PM | #

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