Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vote for Selective Understanding & Recall

“Retail politics” describes a candidate for office soliciting support person-by-person. Historically, the currency of retail politicians has been shaking hands and kissing babies. Traditionally, the rule for success is telling each potential voter what he or she wants to hear.
     Like retail merchandising—which sells prods to buy tangible items—retail politics—which sells prods to campaign and vote in certain ways—should also include mass media communications. With these methods, it’s more challenging for the politician to have each message recipient come away with what best satisfies. Still, it’s easier than you might think. Voters show selective perception of what best fits their preexisting beliefs.
     Evidence for this comes from Fairleigh Dickinson University study results which have been featured under headlines like the Rolling Stone’s “Watching Fox News Actually Makes You Stupid.” The claim in these reports is that people who watch only the conservatively-oriented Fox News end up less well-informed than people who don’t regularly watch news.
      That claim is supported by the research findings, but this isn’t the complete story. First, the methodology has limitations. The degree of knowledge of news was measured by five questions on international issues—such as “To the best of your knowledge, have the opposition groups protesting in Egypt been successful in removing Hosni Mubarak?”—and five on domestic issues—such as, “It took a long time to get the final results of the Iowa caucuses for Republican candidates. In the end, who was declared the winner?” Ten questions, ranging from easier to harder, is better than five, but it’s still a limited sample on which to say how stupid somebody is.
     Moving on, how about viewers of just the liberal-leaning MSNBC? They were a bit better than the “no-newsies” on domestic questions, but also a bit worse than the no-newsies on international questions. Now let’s drill down further: On both the international and domestic items, self-identified liberals watching Fox scored much lower on the same set of questions than did self-identified conservatives watching Fox. Conservatives watching MSNBC scored much lower than did liberals watching MSNBC.
     People who were exposing themselves to a point of view very different from their own were expending mental energy screening out what they didn’t agree with. This process got in the way of them understanding and remembering accurate information.
     Recognize how your shoppers for ideas and items will select what’s consistent with their preexisting beliefs.

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Repeat Information When Selling to a Group

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