Justifying Voting Behavior

Justifying Voting Behavior: By Jennifer Thomas

A large portion of the population has the tendency to vote against their best interest in order to stay true to their political party affiliation. Despite the possibility of not agreeing with their party’s candidate, people will still vote for them instead of the candidate that goes along with their beliefs. For example, if a person identifies as a Republican but does not agree with President Trump’s views, voting for him will create a cognitive discrepancy. Before continuing, cognitive dissonance can occur on both sides of the political parties, however for the sake of clarity the example being use will be Donald Trump. Anyways, this inconsistency between the voter’s beliefs and actions creates the extremely uncomfortable feeling known as cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a social psychological theory proposed by Leon Festinger (1957) that states people wish to have their beliefs and actions match up in order to remain consistent. Because of this motivation to stay consistence, people may adapt their beliefs, actions, or justify their behavior. Not only does this bad voting behavior create dissonance, it also goes against the voter’s best interest. It is strongly urged that the voter examines all of the options and information available before voting. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce this dissonance and become a better voter for yourself and the nation as a whole. Just as the info graphic suggests there are three different ways to reduce this cognitive dissonance. The first involves changing the voter’s beliefs to align with the party’s political candidate. For example, if an individual does not agree with Trump’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act then that individual should read and learn more about the controversy.

Through proper education a change in beliefs may occur, thus reducing the inconsistency. Since changing voter beliefs is an extremely daunting task, the next step a voter can take would be to change the behavior. What this means is that when Election Day arrives, the voter for should vote for the candidate that aligns with their views the most. By changing the individual voter behavior to align with beliefs, this dissonance will go away. The final way you can reduce this cognitive dissonance is by changing the perception of the action.

So despite lack of support the voter ends up selecting Trump, they can say it is due to his economic stance rather than his social beliefs. By changing the perception of the action, the voter will successfully reduce the dissonance by justifying their voting behavior. By taking one of those three steps, cognitive dissonance will be reduced and the voting behavior will be justified. With a brief overview of cognitive dissonance and how it plays into voting behavior, there is very high hope that voter’s will examine their behaviors more closely before the next election. Before you vote, weigh all of the options and select the candidate that has beliefs that align the most with your own in order to avoid this cognitive dissonance.

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