Obama, Romney supporters: More in common than you might think?

October 4, 2012, University of Michigan
Obama, Romney supporters: R-E-S-P-E-C-T (just a little bit)

(Phys.org)—It's a common refrain during the political season—Republicans and Democrats talk past one another. They claim they live in different universes or come from different species, with little hope for extending empathy across the political aisle.

But University of Michigan researcher Yesim Orhun and her colleague Oleg Urminsky of the University of Chicago say that there exists a greater respect for one another's views than is generally assumed.

"Psychologists have claimed that people stop thinking about how they feel when trying to make sense of others' feelings when others are seen as very different," said Orhun, assistant professor of marketing at the U-M Ross School of Business. "Therefore, we would not expect people to rely on what they know about themselves to make sense of voters for the opposing candidate. But they do."

In a new study forthcoming in the , Orhun and Urminsky explore how one's own evaluations might affect inferences about others' evaluations of choice options—conditional on knowing others' choices.

The researchers, who say their findings are applicable to the current between President and challenger , conducted surveys during the last presidential election between Obama and in 2008.

They asked people to rate how much they liked each candidate and then to estimate the same ratings among other survey-takers who were backing either Obama or McCain. They found a surprising pattern when they looked at people's estimates for how they thought voters in the opposing camp rated the candidates.

"We found a strong link between people's views and assumptions about supporters of the opposing party," said Urminsky, associate professor of marketing at Chicago's Booth School of Business. "For example, the more strongly the Obama voter liked Obama, the more strongly she thought McCain voters liked McCain. And the more strongly the Obama voter disliked McCain, the more strongly she thought McCain voters disliked Obama."

Their results show that most voters do, in fact, use their own views as a template for estimating the corresponding views of voters on the other side.

"Most psychology research had suggested that the Obama voter would not rely on her own views to make sense of McCain , because she would see them as too different from herself. A few researchers suggested there might be a polarizing relationship," Urminsky said.

But Orhun's and Uminsky's results indicate a completely different pattern. In subsequent studies, they also extended these results to a wide range of other choices such as posters, digital cameras, art and video game consoles.

"Even if others' choices are different from ours, we continue to see others as broadly similar to ourselves," Orhun said. "We think to ourselves, 'How they reached their decision must be similar to how I reached mine.'

"So, if you find yourself using your own views to make sense of the opposing political views of a relative or neighbor, you are not alone—it's how we see across the divide."

Explore further: Majority of voters say election outcome will make a great deal of difference on key issues

More information: The paper, "Conditional Projection: How Own Evaluations Impact Beliefs about Others Whose Choices Are Known," can be found online at: www.journals.marketingpower.co … /10.1509/jmr.10.0052

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not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
Their results show that most voters do, in fact, use their own views as a template for estimating the corresponding views of voters on the other side.

Which isn't very surprising as there's no other template we have. In first approximation we ALWAYS assume the other guy thinks like we do.
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 04, 2012
Perhaps the reason why these groups of supporters seem so similar, is that both groups have absolutely no clue as to what the candidates actually stand for (if they stand for anything at all, which is debatable.) This is not a surprise, since the important issues are not debated in public, and the public assumes that the minor issues being debated represent the views of the candidates, who have a long history of saying one thing and doing another.

This also explains voter apathy.
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
You mean ignorant people have a lot in common? If you support either of these corporate candidates you are either completely ignorant of all relevant political facts, or you own a ton of Monsanto, Viacom, or Exxon stock. Of course there's no difference between the ignorant electorate who feel that the pablum peddled by television counts as "news".
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
This result is not surprising. Both sides draw from the same information sources before spinning their own narratives.

They are really about as different as a left hand versus a right hand. They are opposite yet they are both hands.

What is disturbing about this study is the marginalization of anyone who is not for "Obama" or "Romney" by simply ignoring their input. (or so this article seems to suggest)
1 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2012
"Democracy is the road to Socialism" Karl Marx

Oh, how I yearn for a return to the constitutional republic our forefathers fought and died for. Too bad for us that type of government isn't co-habitable with fiat (fraud) based central banking.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2012
"Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty."

not rated yet Oct 06, 2012
The GOP is merely the right wing of the democrat ruling class. See Angelo Codevilla's America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution.

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