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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucy Hyde | EurekAlert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences