This Is Your Brain on Politics

Friday, October 12, 2012


We may think we know all about how we make decisions, but when it comes to political choices, they can hinge on a number of factors that we rarely notice. Brooke speaks with political psychologists and scientists to get to the bottom of why we make the choices we do at election time.


Larry Bartels, Brian Nosek, Michael Spezio and Drew Westen

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [10]

RaiseMore hell

You can probably find the relevant studies on differing inequality under Dem and GOP admins in Bartel's book:

Oct. 21 2012 05:51 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Toby(not from North Korea) hit the most pertinent point in this segment by highlighting "what success Democrats have had in increasing the wealth of average Americans."

Oct. 16 2012 04:20 PM
Duffy Johnson from Albuquerque, NM

I've been an independent voter my entire life. I identify strongly with the positions Democratic party, and have never voted for a Republican, but I don't identify with the party SYSTEM at all. I embrace the ideals of the club, not the club itself. I blame Groucho Marks!

Oct. 16 2012 02:32 PM
Andrew M from Santa Rosa, CA

Good segment,pretty interesting. I'll brag momentarily and just say that I knew the facts that were presented about presidential party records and economics.

One thing missing from the piece was the exception to the idea that the incumbent party wins when the economy is good. That would be the year 2000. Something pretty strange happened that year, didn't it?

Oct. 15 2012 02:20 AM
Steve Kurka


Can someone post the references to the studies tied to the affect on incomes during administrations?

Sounds like an interesting study.


Oct. 14 2012 10:56 PM
Lauren Deutsch from Los angeles

There is a press pandemic that has caused a hole in our civil society rivaling the one in the ozone layer. It is caused by an unbearable rightness of being rendered as back-page team sports jingoism. What happened to the capacity of the fourth estate to provide the substance, not the fluff, of civil discourse?

It is painfully obvious to this J-school grad well before the broadcasters were tagging red-state, blue-state, battleground-state. It was obvious even before third candidate Ross Perot delivered his game plan from a white colored podium

The talking heads (excluding the Muppets) are tossing around our socio/economic future as if it were a football after the kick-off. I say Time Out! Put away the pompoms and the kegs. Get off the tailgate and into the voting booth.

For example, campaign finance is not a "flag on the play", rather a desperate need to rebalance the purpose and means of finding the right “starting line up” for the next four years. Shouldn’t we suspect a problem if people are throwing a buck on the outcome?

The media folk mistake being "fair" by airing all opinions allowing all opinions, but especially those that are nuanced within an edge of their life. Who is going to ask Romney who he might put into his cabinet to do all the fixing he proposes? Who is going to develop these "plans" that he says? We know who is currently serving in office.

Oct. 14 2012 01:12 PM
Toby from outside Atlanta, unfortunatel, but hey, it's not North Korea

---great little piece there. I'm not so sure all the people were doing self-deception in that study, like, you really can just weigh what someone has done & judge whether you like them or not with it looking like what was described: bad reaction, then some reasoning, then the reaction gets better. That is not always self-deception, but it could be in some cases. It was AWESOME (all caps awesome) to hear what success Democrats have had in increasing the wealth of average Americans. That kind of fact over on All Things Considered were be so very taboo... the Republicans working there would insist on immediately following any such fact with, "although this is controversial & is rebutted by Conservative economist 'x' who has a free market alternative, which is as follows...", it's like Post Modernist nonsense... argh, but it's a good show overall I guess. Good piece there OTM!

Oct. 14 2012 11:29 AM
Joe Brown from New York

This was a disappointing example of how social scientists miss the point. Most people label themselves as "independent" for two reasons - a) the party they tend towards has some extreme wings or platform positions they abhor, or b) the two political parties don't cover the whole spectrum and in fact contradict themselves. On the latter, I tend towards opposing government involvement in BOTH economic issues and social issues. As a "moderate libertarian", I don't fit into either party, particularly as they have gone to extremes in the past years.

This is actually a product of the US 2 party system. In most countries, there is far more gradation of positions among parties.

Oct. 14 2012 10:27 AM
Neil Thrun

Simply because a person may identify with one or more of the parties platforms, there maybe important reasons they refuse to call themselves by those party names. In particular, I can identify with many Democratic positions, but I cannot support the Drone War, the War on Drugs and the War on Whistle Blowers.

Oct. 13 2012 05:50 PM
Hugh Sansom

How many of the claims of the scientists in this segment turn on the assumption that political decisions are American-style A or B decisions? What about those systems with multiple parties or which don't use winner-take-all approaches?

Oct. 13 2012 07:15 AM

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