Tag: voting

Are Politics Skin-Deep? Liberal Voters See Obama as Lighter Skinned

By Brett Israel | November 23, 2009 5:49 pm

obama-skin-toneResearchers are making the case that a person’s political views cause them to see with a tinted perspective.

Scientists showed undergraduate students a series of digitally darkened or lightened photos of President Barack Obama last fall, and asked them which photos best represented him as a person. The results were striking: while self-described liberals tended to pick the digitally lightened photos of the president, self-described conservative students more frequently picked the darkened images. The more one agrees with a politician, in other words, the lighter his skin tone seems; the less you agree, the darker it becomes [Newsweek]. The study will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The Wisdom of Crowds… of Stickleback Fish

By Eliza Strickland | November 14, 2008 11:11 am

stickleback fishIt’s not just we humans who value consensus: A new study has shown that stickleback fish make better decisions when acting as a group than they do as individuals. Researchers set up a clever experiment in which the fish had to choose which leader to follow in the quest for food, giving them an option between a “good” choice and a “bad” choice. Based on earlier experiments, the study’s researchers had a pretty good idea about … stickleback preferences. Fat, evenly colored fish are regarded as healthy and strong, while scrawny fish mottled with black spots may be considered diseased. Coauthor Ashley Ward … says of these sticklebacks, “Fish like large leaders, well-fed leaders and unparasitized leaders” [Science News].

Researchers made a stickleback replica that looked healthy and fat as well as one that appeared bony and mottled, and put both into the fish tank. When shown the fish replicas, the other sticklebacks in the tank would approach and follow one of the two replicas, which were moved around by remote control. Following a certain fish would be their version of casting a ballot…. When just one fish chose its leader, the fish would make the right choice, picking the healthiest leader about 55 percent of the time. That number went up to 80 percent with the eight-fish electorate [LiveScience].

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"Undecided" Voters Have Already Decided… They Just Don't Know It

By Eliza Strickland | August 21, 2008 7:05 pm

ballot election votingPeople who say they’re undecided on a hot political topic may already have made up their minds; they just haven’t consciously realized it yet. A clever new study that measured unconscious positive and negative associations indicates that most undecided voters have already formed a preference for one position or candidate.

Experts say the findings may help explain why political polls can be so off-base, and why some people make up their minds in the voting booth with little sense of why they pulled the lever yeah or nay, blue or red [The New York Times]. Pollsters and politicians who think that undecided voters can still be swayed either way should take note, says lead researcher Bertram Gawronski.

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Where You Vote Could Influence How You Vote

By Eliza Strickland | June 24, 2008 6:17 pm

polling stationPeople may think they’re making up their own minds when they step into the voting booth on election day; they may think that the decision they make there is a product of careful reflection and personal values. But a new study suggests that voters may be swayed by the simplest factors, like the associations they have with the physical place where they vote. In the study, researchers showed that people who cast their votes in a school were more likely to support an education initiative.

“Seemingly innocuous factors can influence behavior,” said Jonah Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the study’s lead author. “There is a connection between location and the thing people are voting on” [ABC News Medical Unit].

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MORE ABOUT: decisions, voting

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