Stars & Yipes: People More Likely to Vote Republican If Exposed to Picture of American Flag

Sorry, for all your advanced intelligence, the human brain is easy to manipulate. One technique is called “priming” where a future response can be impacted by seemingly unrelated material you were exposed to previously. A 2011 study provided one example of how priming can be used to influence voters.

Researchers assembled a group of potential voters in late 2008 prior to the Obama/McCain presidential elections. During the study, one group was shown a picture of an American flag while the other group was not exposed to this image. Post-election, the actual ballots cast by the participants were tallied up.
The flag-viewing group voted for Obama 73%-27% while the group who did not encounter the patriotic stars and stripes were pro-Obama 84%-16%. The fact that all participants skewed Obama is irrelevant for purposes of the study (Democrats dominated the sample pool), but the researchers couldn’t otherwise explain the 15% difference between the two outcomes. 
The American flag is supposed to be an apolitical symbol of patriotism but somehow it’s become a loaded icon imbued with Republican values. Years of the GOP stating they love America more than liberals might be paying off.

I think I’ll start watching political ads a bit differently :)

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