The Psychology of Partisanship

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Mac1958, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Mac1958
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    Mac1958 Platinum Member

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    This topic won't be very popular here, but what the hell.

    I remain absolutely fascinated by the partisan mind - how a Partisan Ideologue (PI) arrives at a point where they appear to created a intellectual vacuum from which they simply cannot escape. PI's are so attached to their beliefs that they appear to be truly sincere when they automatically utilize spin, denial and diversion when confronted with simple facts. I've often wondered if this is just a big game, but after looking into the eyes of PI's - kind of like looking at the face of a Middle East religious zealot - I'm coming to the conclusion that they really do believe most of what they say.

    There are many books out there about the power of the subconscious mind, and how we can essentially convince ourselves of many things simply by repeating them and buying into them. That has to play a part in this behavior, and it's obviously exacerbated by the intellectual commitment to people and networks like Fox, MSNBC, Limbaugh, Maddow, Hannity, Schultz, et al. These "pundits" are people who have a vested interest in feeding into this condition, and their "followers" clearly don't see it.

    Here's an interesting piece I found while Googling "the psychology of partisanship" - many links, so I'm not the only one wondering about this - it links partisanship to self-esteem, which is something I've thought makes sense:

    Partisan Psychology: Why Do People Choose Political Loyalties Over Facts? : It's All Politics : NPR

    From the piece:

    Along with Jason Reifler at Georgia State University, Nyhan said, he's exploring the possibility that partisans reject facts because they produce cognitive dissonance — the psychological experience of having to hold inconsistent ideas in one's head. When Democrats hear the argument that the president can do something about high gas prices, that produces dissonance because it clashes with the loyalties these voters feel toward Obama. The same thing happens when Republicans hear that Obama cannot be held responsible for high gas prices — the information challenges their dislike of the president.

    Nyhan and Reifler hypothesized that partisans reject such information not because they're against the facts, but because it's painful. That notion suggested a possible solution: If partisans were made to feel better about themselves — if they received a little image and ego boost — could this help them more easily absorb the "blow" of information that threatens their pre-existing views?

    Nyhan said that ongoing — and as yet, unpublished — research was showing the technique could be effective. The researchers had voters think of times in their lives when they had done something very positive and found that, fortified by this positive memory, voters were more willing to take in information that challenged their pre-existing views.

    "One person talked about taking care of his elderly grandmother — something you wouldn't expect to have any influence on people's factual beliefs about politics," Nyhan said. "But that brings to mind these positive feelings about themselves, which we think will protect them or inoculate them from the threat that unwelcome ideas or unwelcome information might pose to their self-concept."


    While I expect personal insults in response to this thread (from PI's, of course), please note again that I'm not the only one fascinated by this topic. Holy crap, folks are doing research and studies on it.

    Anyway, thoughts?

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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  2. there4eyeM
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    there4eyeM unlicensed metaphysician

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    It is amazing how few people try to integrate the elements that work in various systems and prefer to cling to dogma, doctrine and ideology, political and religious. It seems they are 'born' into something and cannot see any other reasoning.
     
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  3. Mac1958
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    Mac1958 Platinum Member

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    Holy crap, I'm having fun with this. Here's a study written be some Yale guys called "Personality and the Strength and Direction of Partisan Identification".

    http://orion.luc.edu/~ddoherty/documents/Personality%20and%20Partisanship.pdf

    From the piece:

    ...the negative relationship between Openness, a trait associated with eagerness to entertain new ideas, and strength of partisanship is particularly strong. Although individuals high on this trait tend to support liberal policies, they may be resistant to, or even repelled by, the notion that political engagement involves an uncomplicated decision to side with one of two parties...

    ...The cognitive appeal of partisan affiliations is also likely to depend on personality dispositions. Prior research suggests that “need for structure” (the appeal of simplified conceptual structures) is associated with the formation and use of stereotypes in decision making (Schaller, Boyd, Yohannes, and O’Brien 1995). Partisan identification is a similar decision-making heuristic because it provides a simplified framework for interpreting political events (see, e.g., Fiorina 1981; Rahn 1993)...

    Lots of good stuff in this study, still reading...

    .
     
  4. RosieS
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    RosieS Partisan Courtesan Supporting Member

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    I think that basically liberals and conservatives think differently....to the extent that their brains process differently. The more strong one's brain processes a certain way, the more partisan that person is. The more centrist a person is, brain-wise, the easier it would be to switch parties.

    Paranoia is one aspect of the conservative brain that is nonsensical to me. I suppose an ardent conservative would consider my bllithe fearlessness over national security and the near future to be nonsense. I seriously don't perceive the nation or world to be as dangerous a place as many conservatives do. It is how my brain has always worked and I've never NOT been strongly liberal.

    Regards from Rosie
     
  5. SniperFire
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    SniperFire Senior Member

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    Well, Mac.

    You could always vote for the anarchist in the race.


    LOL
     
  6. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Well, Snippy, I think you just added validity to the point that Mac was making with the article.
     
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  7. SniperFire
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    SniperFire Senior Member

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    I want world peace and an end to all disease and hunger.

    You want a world with no partisanship.

    We are both realists.

    LOL
     
  8. OODA_Loop
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    OODA_Loop Account Terminated

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    Tell us about the independents brain.

    They are flocking to one party of late.
     
  9. zeke
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    zeke Gold Member

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    Mac, In your research did you come across any articles about other great societies that have ceased to exist and the effect partisanship had on the eventual decline of that society?

    Did partisanship or apathy cause the decline in the Roman empire?

    Does partisanship and apathy go hand and hand. As more become partisan do more also become apathetic?

    Any other interesting tidbits? Just curious.
     
  10. Mac1958
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    Mac1958 Platinum Member

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    None of that, yet. The studies I'm finding examine the personality traits that lead people in one ideological direction or the other, and they really get into empirical evidence, data on surveys, on what makes people commit to an ideology in general.

    Holy crap, some of this stuff is pretty dry, but there's some cool tidbits among the data.

    Nothing yet on partisanship's effects on specific societies, but there's a ton of stuff to comb through still.

    .
     

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