Rush To Judgment: Why People Change Their Minds After Big Elections

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Michael Dukakis' Presidental Hopes Faded After A Poor Photo Op In A Tank: Image courtesy of Michael Dukasis

New Information Processing

Another factor that changes our minds is information received after we make a decision. According to a study from the University of Cambridge, people continue to receive and evaluate new information, even after making a decision. We second-guess our choices almost instantly upon making them. As we learn more information, we change our decisions.

This happens in politics quite often. A political gaffe or fumble can turn voters off of a particular candidate. In 1988, Michael Dukakis was challenging then Vice President George H.W. Bush for the White House. Many people remember the image of Dukakis in a tank, complete with helmet. This image changed how people viewed Dukakis.

We are bombarded by information constantly, and our brains must filter and process the information. We even block out information that disagrees with our notions. Some people may be willing to forget or ignore an image, such as the famous tank photo. Others will reprocess their decision based on this new information.

Information processing studies have shown that people will change their minds almost immediately after making a decision. This type of processing helps with reflex processing, such as avoiding a thrown object, or running to safety from a burning building. The instinctive nature of these processes is still being studied for a more complete picture of information processing in decision making.

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