Washington, Dec.19 : A new national study of voters who say they might vote in Democratic primaries and caucuses shows a striking disconnect between their explicit and implicit preferences, according to University of Washington researchers. When asked who they would vote for, Barack Obama held a 42 percent to 34 percent margin over Hilary Clinton, while former senator John Edwards was placed third with 12 percent.
When asked who they would vote for, Barack Obama held a 42 percent to 34 percent margin over Hilary Clinton, while former senator John Edwards was placed third with 12 percent.
However, when the same people took an Implicit Association Test that measures their unconscious or automatic preferences, Clinton was the favoured candidate of 48 percent of the voters. Edwards was second with 27 percent and Obama had 25 percent.
Bethany Albertson, a UW assistant political science professor and Anthony Greenwald, a UW psychology professor and inventor of the Implicit Association Test, emphasized that their participants were not a representative sample of Democrats, but were self-selected volunteers who took an experimental test over the Web.
The data came from 926 people age 18 and over who took the test between October 16 and November 5. Of that total, 687 people said they might vote in the Democratic primaries.
"What is new here is a pre-election indicator that this may happen. We don't know what will happen in the Iowa caucuses when people who say they favor Obama have to convince other participants. And we don't know if some of those participants in the caucuses who say they are planning to vote for Obama will end up choosing Clinton," Greenwald said.
Albertson said implicit preferences may shape the way voters take in new information as the presidential campaign develops.
Albertson and Greenwald said the disconnect between implicit and explicit preferences for Obama held up for both white and black participants as well as for both men and women. Just under 70 percent of the participants in the study were female. Whites made up 72 percent of the sample while blacks numbered 10 percent.
The Implicit Association Test was developed nearly a decade ago to measure the unconscious roots of people's thinking and feeling. Since it was created, over six million people have taken versions of the test that have measured unconscious attitudes about such topics as race, gender, sexuality and various ethnic groups. The test is widely used around the world by psychological researchers to probe people's attitudes. (ANI)
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