How Neuromarketers Tapped The Vote Button In Your Brain to Help The GOP Win The House

Kevin Randall, Fast Company, Nov 04, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Why is the Republican Party now represented by red, when conservative parties in all other places - and even the U.S., in the past - were represented with blue? Ben Zimmer suggests (via) "Democrats may have wanted to appropriate the positive connotations of blue (as in true-blue)" but I wonder whether it isn't deeper than that. Because I recall over the years studies saying that teams that wear red win more frequently.

That's speculation, but the association between political advertising and psychological preference is not. Today's Fast Company carried an article on the use of what they call "political neuromarketing" during the campaign. It's not really neuro marketing as it has nothing to do with neural connections. Rather, they "measure everything including the storyline, level of the language, images, music. Using critical point analysis, [they] identify specifics that may drive voters away or attract them. The techniques are non-invasive, and include measuring muscle, skin and pupil response."

The success of such techniques obviously has its implications in political theory, but is also relevant in learning theory. The general principle that "the brain reveals more than spoken answers to questions" tells us that knowledge, beliefs, and other mental states are much more fine-grained than our more traditional analyses suggest. Understanding that learning - and persuasion - is not simply "words in - words out" is the first step toward developing a more comprehensive theory of cognition.
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