Voting Behavior: A Perplexing Psychological Puzzle

The 2016 presidential primaries are heating up and candidates are in fierce race to win majority of delegates from individual States to earn party’s presidential nomination. Currently, two Democrats and three Republicans are still in the presidential race. One of the Democrat candidate, Bernie Sanders, addressed a rally of San Diegans at San Diego Convention Center yesterday, March 22nd.

In the 2016 elections, the candidates as well as the voting results are consistently amusing and surprising us. But there are few insightful questions which are as surprising and interesting as voting it-self, such as, “Who do we vote for?” “How do we choose a candidate?” “How does psychological behavior play role in casting the ballot?”

These questions have intrigued the psychologist, sociologist and political scientists studying human behavior particularly “voting behavior”. Studies on voting behavior include understanding the reasons why people vote as they do and how they arrive to the decisions they make. The decision making process is complex and it is influenced by a variety of factors. We commonly think that voting behavior depends on rational factors such as ideological orientation of voter, party identification, past performance of government, and personality of candidates. Voting is viewed as people’s expression of themselves and how they themselves relate to the candidate. However, in election battleground the dynamics become much more complex and interesting. For example, peer pressure and societal pressure may alter voting behavior. People may adapt as per the surrounding to be compatible with other members of a group. Obviously, news and media affect voting behavior. The high profile event can have a great influence on voting behavior especially the emotional and shocking events. People tend to vote and seek candidate who they feel best protects and safeguards their ideology, thinking, country and freedom.

As per social psychology people can be persuaded in two different ways – Peripheral Route for persuasion where the voters use emotions and superficial features to make a decision; and Central Route for persuasion which is ideal route to decide with strong argument, facts and logic. But the second often tend to switch to peripheral route. Thus, it is very important for voters to critically evaluate their voting behavior to make informed decision while casting their votes.

Voting Pic 1 Blog

Approximately, 7 months are left for the final United States presidential election, which is scheduled on Nov 08, 2016. Presidential candidates are doing their best to be in race for The White House. Voters are eagerly following elections and waiting to see if their choice of candidate wins the primaries and the final elections. Researchers are constantly studying the voting behavior. It has always fascinated the researchers and it will keep baffling us because human behavior is dynamic and it keeps changing as the society evolves.

Author: JSciMed Central (Copyright © 2016 JSciMed Central)

Photo Credit: Kanako Nishino

JSciMed Central is a publisher of peer-reviewed scholarly journals 

List of JSciMed Central journals in the area of Neuroscience and Behavior: Journal of Neurology & Translational Neuroscience, Annals of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Journal of Behavior, JSM Anxiety and Depression, Annals of Neurodegenerative Disorders