Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The 'silent majority' agrees with me, voters believe

21.09.2011
We like to think that others agree with us. It's called "social projection," and it helps us validate our beliefs and ourselves. Psychologists have found that we tend to think people who are similar to us in one explicit way—say, religion or lifestyle—will act and believe as we do, and vote as we do. Meanwhile, we exaggerate differences between ourselves and those who are explicitly unlike us.

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 lhyde@psychologicalscience.org.

Lucy Hyde | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>