The Savannah Morning News reports: Despite probing news reports, spirited debates and thoughtful editorials, most voters make political decisions based on their emotions, according to a new book by an Emory University psychologist.
Drew Westen, described by his publishers as a "clinical, personality and political psychologist," begins "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation" by recounting an experiment he and some colleagues conducted.
They had people read statements while hooked up to scanners so the scientists could see which areas of the brain were active. When the test subjects read statements by candidates they supported, they had trouble catching planted inconsistencies while they had no problems seeing the waffling of their opponents or neutral speakers like actor Tom Hanks.
Who hasn't spotted the same thing in friends while arguing politics at the water cooler?
What was interesting is Westen's observation of what parts of the brain energized. To evaluate the neutral speakers or the opponents, the test subjects' reasoning centers of the brain fired up. Smoking over the comments of a political favorite, though, lit up the part of the brain concerned with emotions, the amygdala, whether Republican or Democrat.
Put another way, no one likes to be wrong, and supporting a politician who flip-flops is merely proof of bad judgment. To avoid the conflict, our brain retreats from cold reasoning to the gooey province of emotions. -- Researcher suggests voters are led by emotions | SavannahNow.com