October 29, 2004

2004 Election: Experts Explain the Psychology Behind Why People Vote the Way They Do

WHAT: Do political candidates who have certain traits attract more voters? What influences young versus older voters? Are voters motivated by the issues a candidate supports or by the candidate's personality? Can campaign advertisements really change a voter's mind? Psychologists who have expertise in voting behavior, leadership qualities, attitude formation and political psychology are available for interviews to talk about why people voted the way they did.

Topics and Experts:

Influence of Attitude Formation and Public Opinion on Voting

Jon A. Krosnick, PhD, Professor of Communication, Political Science and Psychology, Stanford University. Dr. Krosnick's research examines how policy debates affect voters' candidate preferences, how the news media shape which national problems citizens think are most important for the nation and shape how citizens evaluate the President's job performance, how becoming very knowledgeable about and emotionally invested in a government policy issue (such as abortion or gun control) affects people's political thinking and participation, how people's political views change as they move through the life-cycle from early adulthood to old age, and how the order of candidates' names on the ballot affect voting behavior. Dr. Krosnick is available at (650) 725-3031 or by Email.

Shanto Iyengar, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University. Dr. Iyengar can discuss effects of campaigns on voters' choices, the psychology of public opinion and the role of mass communication in politics. Dr. Iyengar is available at (650) 723-5509 or by Email.

Peter Lamal, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Lamal can provide insight into why people vote as they do. According to Lamal, people are influenced by the consequences of their behaviors, such as voting. People will vote to maximize their perceived rewards and minimize their perceived negative consequences. He also examines the American electoral process and its affect on voting behavior. He can be reached at (704) 509-1689 or by Email.

Social and Developmental Influences on Voting

James Youniss, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Catholic University. Dr. Youniss can explain what influences youths' civic involvement and later voting patterns. He has expertise on what the developmental benefits are in community service and volunteering, political-civic socialization and moral development decisions. He can be reached at (202) 319-5999 or by Email.

Frank Farley, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Temple University. Dr. Farley can talk about how the motivations, emotions and personality of the candidates affect voters' choices and their preferences. He can also discuss the methods of polling and how each method can psychologically affect the voters. He has also studied what affects younger voters as compared with what affects older voters in their choices and preferences. Lastly, he can talk about the how the social and cultural changes in America may have impacted voting patterns in this particular election. Dr. Farley can be reached at (215) 668-7581 [cell], (215) 204-6024 [office] or by Email.

Candidate Traits and Voting Behavior

Michael Maccoby, PhD, President of the Maccoby Group. Dr. Maccoby can talk about what attracts voters to certain political leaders. He can discuss why one political leader can make a voter feel safe while another can instill security by showing leadership through thoughtfulness and reasoned knowledge of the issues. He is available at (202) 737-9100 or by Email.

Lisa A. Miller, PhD, Associate Professor, Columbia University. Dr. Miller can discuss research that involves the match between voters and candidates. She examines peoples' personality types and their motivations to vote for certain candidates. She is available at (212) 678-3852 or by Email.

Robert Ployhart, PhD, Professor of Industrial/Organization Psychology, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. Dr. Ployhart's expertise focuses on how agreement versus consistency relates to voting behavior. His research shows that people vote more for candidates that they agree with rather than who they think is more consistent on the issues. He says that consistency is something politicians like to think is important, as does the general public, but voters actually behave in terms of who agrees with them now. Dr. Ployhart can be reached at (803) 777-5903 or by Email.

Media, Race and Multiculturalism Affects on Voting

David O. Sears, PhD, Professor of Political Science and Social Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Sears has done research on a number of topics in political psychology, including media effects, racial politics, ghetto riots, political movements, and political socialization. His current research investigates the role of race in whites' political attitudes, especially as it concerns both explicitly racial issues such as affirmative action, and putatively non-racial issues such as tax reduction. He also is investigating multiculturalism and the political incorporation of immigrant groups into American society, focusing especially on their sense of ethnic group consciousness. Dr. Sears is available at (310) 825-2160 or by Email.