But what about people whose affiliation is unknown—who can't easily be placed in either the "in-group" or the "out-group"? A new study finds that we think the silent are also our side. Dutch voters, especially those most committed to their parties, were found to believe that people who do not cast a ballot support their own party —even when they know surveys suggest the opposite. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
"Non-voters are an ambiguous group," says Namkje Koudenburg, a graduate student at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, who studies social validation and the intriguing subject of "what it means when people remain silent." That ambiguity allows voters and politicians to exaggerate the influence or size of their own party.
The researchers—Koudenburg, along with Groningen colleagues Tom Postmes and Ernestine H. Gordijn—demonstrated this phenomenon in two studies. In the first, 116 voters were recruited at local polling places during city council elections in 2010. After casting votes, the participants were asked what party they'd vote for in Parliamentary elections three months later; what percentage of votes they estimated their party would win; and then what percentage it would win if non-voters were to participate. The result: In this second, all-inclusive tally, voters expected their support base to be 17 percent larger than in the first.
The second study took place several weeks before national elections, when presumably political passions were higher. In three cities, 207 participants approached on the streets told interviewers which of the seven major parties they intended to vote for. Two questions assessed their commitment to voting for that party. They were then given the actual forecasts of the distribution of votes among those parties and told that not everyone would vote. Asked how many votes their own party would get if everyone cast a ballot, respondents again overestimated. And the more partisan voters overestimated even more.
"People want to validate their opinions, to believe their opinions are right," says Koudenburg. "They are also motivated to promote their party's success," which entails convincing others that it represents the majority's beliefs. The researchers aren't certain whether these exaggerations are conscious strategies or unconscious wishes, she avers. Further research might help sort that out.
In the meantime, Koudenburg says, the study suggests one problem caused by non-voting: Voters, candidates, and the political leaders who win can claim greater popular affirmation for their positions than might really exist. By enlarging the imaginary "in-group," citizens "can use low turnout to strengthen their biases."
For more information about this study, please contact: Namkje Koudenburg at N.Koudenburg@rug.nl.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "They Were to Vote, They Would Vote for Us" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Lucy Hyde at 202-293-9300 or email@example.com.
Lucy Hyde | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2017 | Life Sciences
21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine