“Ballot Behavior: Politics & Psychology” – May 23, 2016

Psychology in Action is proud to announce our fifth annual interdisciplinary symposium, Monday, May 23rd, 2016, from 4 to 6pm in UCLA’s CNSI Auditorium. The discussion will focus on factors that influence voters’ beliefs and behavior. The event is completely FREE and open to the general public! We hope to see you there!   During the first hour (4–5pm), each speaker will present a brief talk demonstrating their research on voting behavior.  The second hour (5–6pm) will feature an…

Continue reading

Biased About Biases: The Origins and Growth of Human Conflict

————————— “We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”                                                                – George Orwell, 1946  —————————…

Continue reading

An argument for the end of political ads?

With election season coming up, the presidential candidates have invested heavily—recruiting top ad executives, media researchers, producers, etc.—in creating the perfect ads to highlight their own strengths and their opponents’ shortcomings. But how much does this effort really sway voters?

Continue reading

A Nation Divided: Partisanship and Morality

It seems that the divide between conservatives and liberals grows sharper every day, especially during election season.  But what is the source of this bitter partisanship? Research by Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham may begin to provide an answer.  Their research suggests that people of different political affiliations are not merely divided over the specific values they hold, but are divided on the very foundations of their values.  Using evolutionary theory and anthropological evidence as…

Continue reading

Quick Tips for Becoming Poll-Literate

If you’re a political junkie like me, or just a casual election-follower, you’ve probably read a few polls that made your jaw drop.  Here are some things a skeptical poll consumer should look for before letting their jaw fully drop.   Selection Bias One of the first questions you should ask yourself when you read a poll is “What kinds of people did they ask?”  What we want in a poll is to get an…

Continue reading

Are there differences at the neural level in the ways that liberals and conservatives process information?

Some theories suggest that conservatives tend to have a more structured and persistent cognitive style, where liberals tend to be more open to ambiguity.  Building on this idea, a recent paper by David Amodio and his colleagues investigated whether liberals and conservatives would show different brain responses when completing a task requiring cognitive control.  They tested this question by recording event related potentials (brain activity) as participants performed what psychologists call a “go-no go task”. …

Continue reading