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Early EEG responses to pre-electoral survey items reflect political attitudes and predict voting behavior

Early EEG responses to pre-electoral survey items reflect political attitudes and predict voting behavior

Authors: 
Giulia Galli, Davide Angelucci, Stefan Bode, Chiara De Giorgi, Lorenzo De Sio, Aldo Paparo, Giorgio Di Lorenzo, Viviana Betti
Year: 
2021
Journal: 
Scientific Reports
Abstract: 

Self-reports are conventionally used to measure political preferences, yet individuals may be unable or unwilling to report their political attitudes. Here, in 69 participants we compared implicit and explicit methods of political attitude assessment and focused our investigation on populist attitudes. Ahead of the 2019 European Parliament election, we recorded electroencephalography (EEG) from future voters while they completed a survey that measured levels of agreement on different political issues. An Implicit Association Test (IAT) was administered at the end of the recording session. Neural signals differed as a function of future vote for a populist or mainstream party and of whether survey items expressed populist or non-populist views. The combination of EEG responses and self-reported preferences predicted electoral choice better than traditional socio-demographic and ideological variables, while IAT scores were not a significant predictor. These findings suggest that measurements of brain activity can refine the assessment of socio-political attitudes, even when those attitudes are not based on traditional ideological divides.

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