Monday, July 16, 2012

How Do Amnesic Patients Vote?

If someone has profound amnesia, what are that person's political opinions?  I know, it's tempting to say "Democrat," but let's be serious here.  It's an interesting question about how political opinions are stored.

Remembering and Voting: Theory and Evidence from Amnesic Patients

Jason Coronel et al., American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract: One of the most prominent claims to emerge from the field of public opinion is that citizens can vote for candidates whose issue positions best reflect their own beliefs even when they cannot remember previously learned stances associated with the candidates. The current experiment provides a unique and powerful examination of this claim by determining whether individuals with profound amnesia, whose severe memory impairments prevent them from remembering specific issue information associated with any particular candidate, can vote for candidates whose issue positions come closest to their own political views. We report here that amnesic patients, despite not being able to remember any issue information, consistently voted for candidates with favored political positions. Thus, sound voting decisions do not require recall or recognition of previously learned associations between candidates and their issue positions. This result supports a multiple memory systems model of political decision making.


Anonymous said...

On the contrary, now 25 years after that clock turned, as Republicans remain in a perpetual search for Reagan, I would say they are the true amnesiacs.

Doc Merlin said...

Could this mean, instead, that people vote based on things other than policy?

Anonymous said...

This is really confusing. So are the amnesiacs voting based on what the politician says are his/her [the politician's] positions or on the politician's actual positions or on the politician's voting record?

HurryUpToEnjoyLife said...

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