Heuristics and political decision-making: a neuroscience perspective

GT 6.7 Emociones y comportamiento político

Pedro Moreira (University of Minho)
Patrício Ricardo Soares Costa (Universidad de Minho, UMinho)
Sesión 3
Día: viernes,22 de septiembre de 2017
Hora: 13:00 a 15:00
Lugar: Aula 1.1.

Even though political decisions are fundamental for democratic societies, research has demonstrated that these decisions are not merely deliberative processes. Instead, besides the rational variables that account for political decision-making, it is now widely accepted that a variety of factors, including sociological or psychological variables are key players for these decisions. In this context, features such as the personality traits of political leaders constitute an important influence for voting decisions. However, recent evidence has suggested that the choice of political leaders may be even determined by rapid, automatic, heuristic-based processing, which are thought to play an important influence on complex and multi-dimensional human belief systems. This was demonstrated by the work of Todorov, which demonstrated that immediate ratings of unfamiliar political candidates, based on perceived attractiveness and competence were reliable predictors of real elections’ results. In this work, we aimed to understand to what extent these rapid judgments contribute to the formation of voting decisions, by contrasting voting scenarios in which participants decide based solely on the visualization of leaders’ faces versus when they are presented with actual political statements of the candidates. Furthermore, we aimed to test whether the experimental evocation of negative emotional states conducts to altered voting patterns, both in the most simplistic and complex voting scenarios. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data will be collected with the goal of exploring the neural signatures of these voting decisions. This experimental apparatus is discussed in the context of real-life voting decisions, where political communications may influence political decision-making processes, by evoking non-deliberated/automatic processes, governed by primary, emotional, brain circuits.

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