In any democratic process, the choice of candidate to support is a complex choice guided by several psychological principles. A skilled candidate can learn to apply these principles and improve the voters’ attitude on him or herself and increase his or her chance to be elected. Some possible strategies that can be used for this goal are developing an attractive persona, influencing the voters’ decision making, and motivating them. A successful implementation of such strategies should not only increase the amount of votes the candidate receives, but also voters direct engagement through visiting his or her public appearances and displaying support through campaign symbols.
Developing an attractive persona
One person’s feelings and emotions towards another constitute the affective component of his or her attitude towards the subject. Attractiveness and similarity are two factors that a candidate can develop through his or her messaging to convince voters to support him or her (Weiten 435). Therefore, a major strategy a candidate can use to improve these factors is maintaining a pleasant appearance. To affect similarity, he or she should adopt the visual traits and mannerisms of the people whose attitude he or she is trying to change. Furthermore, the candidate should emphasize how similar his or her views are to those of the voters on the issues being discussed.
Influencing decision making
Choosing which candidate to support in a vote is a decision, subject to the psychology of decision making. Therefore, a candidate can adjust his or her messaging to present the issue, or its possible solutions, in a way that pulls voter towards agreeing with his or her point of view. As the ultimate consequences of this choice are unknown, the decision falls under risky decision making (Weiten 274). Utilizing this knowledge, the candidate can present messaging that takes advantage of known heuristics to influence the voters’ choice. For example, he or she can use the representativeness heuristic by presenting an issue and its solution as something similar to their typical prototypes (Weiten 275). Such a presentation will pull voters towards the familiar solution this candidate proposes.
Although voters can agree with a candidate’s views, they must also be motivated to act upon this agreement. As the voting process generally centers on an issue or issues that need to be resolved, the presentation of a candidate’s agenda can be altered to focus on the beneficial consequences of the resolution. Thus, ensuring that the voters are aware of these consequences of a candidate’s proposed solution creates an incentive for them to support it (Weiten 304). This incentive can extend to both voting for him or her and otherwise expressing support, which has the potential to attract other potential voters.
Measuring the results
The ultimate result of utilizing such strategies is the total number of votes the candidate receives. However, during the campaign, their success can be measured by the changes in publicly expressed support for him or her. It can be estimated by the number of people attending the candidate’s public appearances; adoption of the campaign’s symbols; positive mentions in news outlets and social media. These metrics can be gathered to estimate the change in behaviors and attitudes and predict the strategies’ ultimate success.
A candidate can use his or her understanding of psychology to create the campaign’s messaging that influences voters to support and ultimately vote for him or her. Specific strategies include ensuring attractiveness, likeability and similarity; presenting issues and solutions in a familiar context; and clearly outlining the beneficial consequences of the candidate’s election to create an incentive to vote. These measures’ effectiveness can be estimated during the campaign by changes to the voters’ public support of the candidate.
Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations. 10th ed., Cengage Learning, 2017.