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Optimism about Elections: Dissonance Reduction at the Ballot Box
Dennis T. Regan and Martin Kilduff
Vol. 9, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 101-107
Published by: International Society of Political Psychology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791319
Page Count: 7
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This field experiment investigated the effects of the act of voting itself on voters' attitudes in the 1984 presidential election. The subjects were 139 voters who were interviewed either on entering or immediately on departing the polling place. They responded to questions concerning the chances of their candidates being elected president, the outcome of the presidential vote locally, their perceived closeness to their candidates on the issues, and to a non-political question (concerning the beauty of the fall foliage) designed to detect any generalized mood changes as a result of voting. The results showed that people were significantly more confident of their candidates' chances after voting than before, even controlling for any generalized optimism (p < .02). Voting for a presidential candidate had an effect only on expectations concerning the outcome of the race for the presidency, and not on seemingly related questions. The experiment replicates and clarifies previous findings on the effects of post-decision dissonance on attitudes in natural settings.
Political Psychology © 1988 International Society of Political Psychology