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Where You Vote May Determine HOW You Vote

WHERE you vote may determine WHO you vote for. Passersby who stopped to answer surveys taken next to churches in the Netherlands and England reported themselves to be more politically conservative and more negative toward non-Christians than did people who were questioned within sight of government buildings--a finding that may be significant when it comes to voting.

What psychologists call religious "priming" can influence both religious and nonreligious people. Priming occurs when a stimulus such as a verbal or a visual cue--for example, the buildings that were in participants' line of vision during questioning--influences a response. This is especially important because, in the US, most polling places are either inside churches or inside schools.

Psychologist Wade Rowatt says, "In a close election, the place where people vote--a school, a church, a government building--could affect the outcome. For example, a higher percentage of people voting in a church instead of a school might vote for a conservative candidate or proposition."

Another new study shows that conservatives and liberals pay attention to their environments differently, which may be one reason why they find it so hard to agree. Conservatives pay more attention to negative stimuli compared with liberals.

In LiveScience.com, Stephanie Pappas quotes psycholodgist Mike Dodd as saying, "Based on your biology, you might be experiencing and processing something in a fundamentally different way from someone else. (Conservatives are) essentially monitoring things that make them feel uncomfortable, which does feel fairly consistent with conservative policies. They tend to confront things head-on that they view as threats, things like immigration and so on."

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