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Subconscious biases have big impact on your vote, expert says

Last Updated Sep 27, 2019 at 6:45 am PDT

(CREDIT: iStock)

Expert says your subconscious can play a big role in how you choose which party, candidate to vote for

Political Scientist David Moscrop says everyone faces these hidden biases

To kick these hidden biases, expert says you need to take a step back and challenge your own choices

OTTAWA – What impacts your vote more, your brain or your gut feeling?

As Canadians prepare to cast their ballot in the federal election, it appears a person’s subconscious may play a bigger role in their decision than you might think.

When you mark your ‘X’ on Oct. 21, you may like to think you’ve rationally decided which party or candidate is best, but hidden biases have a big impact.

David Moscrop, a political scientist and author of the book Too Dumb for Democracy, explains studies have shown the pitch of a candidate’s voice, their facial structure, their gender, their race, and even their height can be more of an influence on your vote than their policies.

“The pattern of your thinking is so deeply structured by biased racial and gender considerations,” he says. “We typically operate on cognitive auto-pilot.”

Moscrop says everyone faces these hidden biases, and that’s why subconscious sexism and racism are big problems in politics.

“We can’t ever assume that the decision we’re making is wholly rational,” he notes, adding those hidden factors can have a bigger impact than you might think on the overall result. “In a close race, those little biases can be decisive, they can be huge advantages.”

So how do you kick these biases? Moscrop says it’s important to take a step back, always be aware, and challenge your choices to make sure you’re making a reasoned and informed decision.

“Dig into what you think is an important issue. Give yourself some reasons — don’t simply look at someone and say, ‘well, I like the way that person makes me feel.'”