Polling Place Priming: Studying the Effects of Patriotic Symbols on American Voter Choices

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Travis O. Smart (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Todd Hartman

Abstract: Priming has been shown to have a powerful effect upon the mind of voters. Previous scholarship has demonstrated that something as simple as the location and surroundings of voters can modify their choices to a significant degree. Polling places in America typically decorate their sites with patriotic imagery. This paper is the result of an investigation into whether or not such patriotic imagery primes voters’ minds to favor one political party or philosophy over another. I hypothesize that patriotic priming would boost tendencies to identify and support conservative/Republican policies and preferences. A simple experimental design in which some participants were primed with patriotic symbols (e.g., the American flag) while completing a survey about their political preferences revealed mixed results. There were several significant results in political preferences that followed the predictions of the hypothesis, though these results were not a majority of the policy preferences tested. Furthermore, some unexpected anomalies occurred. Technical issues clouded some of the results, however, and rendered many of the responses suspect. Results suggest further investigation into this subject is warranted, under tighter conditions and with a larger and more diverse participant pool from which to draw.

Additional Information

Smart, T.O. (2013). Polling Place Priming: Studying the Effects of Patriotic Symbols on American Voter Choices. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Priming, Patriotism, Symbol

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