Why Trump and Clinton Voters Won't Switch: It's in Their Brains

Posted by K R on

To win the White House, candidates in the presidential race will need to change minds. Bernie Sanders may try converting Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates to gain the Democratic nomination. If frontrunner Clinton gets it, she and Republican Donald Trump will need to win over reluctant voters who supported their competitors. And to change opinions, candidates will have to contend with neurobiology. Scientists say there’s a tension in the brain between responding to new information and resisting overwhelming amounts of conflicting data—and the latter can prevent opinion change. Altering opinion depends on using different psychological methods tailored to different types of belief, according to research. “There’s not much convincing people,” even when the beliefs in question are purely false, says psychiatrist Philip Corlett of Yale University School of Medicine. Neural images show that opinion change plays out at least partly at the neurological level. Depending on the reason people change their opinions, different parts of the brain light up in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans. For example, people who change their minds to conform to social pressure show activity in the posterior medial frontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with reinforcement learning. People who change their minds as a result of targeted persuasion, however, show higher activation in a more frontal part of the brain involved in self-reference. Keise Izuma, a neuroscientist at the University of York in England, summarized these findings in a review in Current Opinion in Neurobiology. Read More: Scientific American

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