Before you cast that vote on the ballot this November…

Article: McGrath, M (2008). “Political views ‘all in the mind’.” BBC World Service. Visited on 18 September 2008

Conceptual Design —  to investigate the level of connection between a person’s political views and her/his physiological makeup, e.g. that person’s sensitivity to fear or threat.

Interaction Design — small study targeting potential voters, exposing them to various sights & sounds that may provoke fear, and checking their responses against their political views on multiple issues.  Subjects were first asked a series of questions regarding their political views on multiple issues (like gun control, capital punishment, abortion, etc.).  Then, using electrical conductance to measure subjects’ skin & blink responses, they were exposed to a series of intentionally frightful images & sounds.  This is used to determine their levels of sensitivity to fears & threats

Interface Design — creepy images like a scared man with a tarantula on his face, and an open wound with maggots in it, and loud, unexpectedly intrusive noises

Summary — while this study is geographically limited (conducted only in Nebraska) and statistically insignificant (n=46), it does offer an interesting hypothesis that people who are highly sensitive to threats & fears tend to support a right-wing agenda.

From the study, folks who perceived less danger to the images & sounds held more liberal viewpoints.

With this limited study, I find it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions.  However, if a more fearful disposition leads to more action/aggression so as to protect one’s ‘social unit’ (dubbed in the article), then another hypothesis might be that these right-wing folks are more apt to vote.

Conversely, the less fearful, liberal set may possess a more laissez-faire attitude, and less active & turn in less votes.  This might explain why the 2 Bush-victory elections were dominated by the fundamental religious right, who only represents 25% of this country.

  1 comment for “Before you cast that vote on the ballot this November…

  1. May 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    It is interesting to note that all usability studies have a low “n”—the number of subjects. Since the costs of studies is very high, we all just have to do with statistically irrelevant data…

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