Why Implicit Attitudes Predict Voting Among Undecided Voters: A Test of the Introspective Neglect Hypothesis Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Lundberg, Kristjen
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Forecasting the votes of undecided voters--a small but powerful proportion of the electorate--is an important challenge for both social scientists and political pollsters. Past research has suggested that implicit attitudes may be uniquely capable of predicting undecided voters' future choices. The studies reported in this research evaluated a possible mechanism for these findings: the introspective neglect hypothesis. This hypothesis asserts that implicit attitudes are equally predictive of voting behavior for decided and undecided voters, in part, because when voters are asked to introspect about their decidedness, they are more likely to focus on their explicit attitudes and neglect their implicit attitudes. As a result of this neglect, the strength of implicit attitudes may not influence judgments of decidedness, but may still exert an influence on voting behavior. This hypothesis was evaluated in two studies using two-wave panel designs. In Study 1, participants were randomly assigned to focus on their implicit (versus explicit) attitudes toward hypothetical candidates while making judgments of decidedness. In Study 2, participants were randomly assigned to consider their implicit attitudes a valid (versus invalid) basis for subsequent decision-making. It was expected that, when implicit attitudes were focal or considered valid, they would be more strongly correlated with judgments of decidedness and more predictive of voting behavior for decided than undecided voters. However, neither study provided support for the hypothesized mechanisms. In both samples, explicit attitudes were uniquely predictive of voting behavior, while implicit attitudes were not. These results were not moderated by judgments of decidedness or by random assignment to condition. Theoretical and methodological explanations for these inconclusive findings are considered, and recommendations are made for future research that may offer an improved test of the introspective neglect hypothesis.
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  • In Copyright
  • Bauer, Daniel
  • Lindquist, Kristen
  • Sheeran, Paschal
  • Fredrickson, Barbara
  • Payne, B. Keith
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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