Posted 10 months ago on July 17, 2012, 10:34 p.m. EST by Misaki
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
\1. It doesn't matter what the policy is, we tend to vote how our party votes.
What other Democrats or Republicans think about a policy makes the largest impact on attitudes. When participants in several studies were presented with two different welfare policies (one very generous and one very stringent) they tended to vote along party lines, as one would expect. Republicans preferred the stringent policy and Democrats preferred the generous policy.
What is surprising, is that when participants received information about how other members of their party voted, the content of the policy mattered very little. Republicans far preferred a very generous welfare policy, when they thought other Republicans did so too. Democrats far preferred a very stringent welfare policy, when they though other Democrats preferred it. It seems that in light of new social information, individuals’ attitudes changed enough to vote counter to the overall philosophy of their party.
\2. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are.
Knowledge about welfare policies in general did not dampen this effect. It was not the case that only those people without knowledge of the topic looked to their peers and in-group to help them shape their attitudes. Everyone did so.
\3. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican.
Yes, it may be easy to say that this is something “those other people” do, but both sides of the aisle were guilty.
\4. We don’t know we’re doing it.
When asked how they made their choices, people were very unlikely to report that the opinion of other party members mattered. While this could be a self-presentation effect, participants were equally blind to their biases when their responses were anonymous.
\5. We think other people are doing it.
People thought that other participants in this study were influenced by social information about how other members of their party voted.
Don't be a sheep — know how to analyze a policy suggestion and if it's what YOU want, support it even if the "leaders" in your life do not!
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