What's the Latest Development?
To test how strongly we identify our political convictions with a specific political party, Swedish researchers took to the streets just before a national election to survey voters about their political leanings. In the experiment, the person handing out surveys to voters secretly filled in an identical survey with the reverse of the voter's answers, and used sleight-of-hand to exchange the answer sheets, placing the voter in the opposite political camp. "The researcher invited the voter to give reasons for their manipulated opinions, then summarized their score to give a probable political affiliation and asked again who they intended to vote for."
What's the Big Idea?
Only 22 percent of voters recognized that their opinions had been manipulated while the majority attempted to justify their new ideas, which shifted them into the ideological camp of the opposing political party. "Eugene Borgida, a social and political psychologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, is not surprised that some people changed their minds in the experiment. 'We know that when you ask someone to explain their views, it tends to temporarily destabilize those views,' he says. But Borgida wonders how durable the results would be. 'I suspect if left alone these people would drift back to their baseline affiliation.'"
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