January 31st, 2010 5:33 pm | by Leah Dimatteo News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Why Voters Choose How They Do


Ever wonder why your neighbors voted the way they did on Measures 66 and 67, or any other ballot question?

Jonah Lehrer, it turns out, has the answer. Gifted neuroscientist and author of the critically acclaimed books Proust Was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide, Lehrer says voters are notoriously inscrutable, emotional, and deeply irrational creatures. So a voter might choose no even though the taxes don't affect him, Lehrer says. “Some people just have a visceral sense that higher taxes are bad," Lehrer says. "It doesn't matter whether they will be affected now or in the future.”

What's worse, because of the sheer abundance and variety of websites and news shows on TV and the web and the internet, people can go on believing whatever they want, reinforcing their preconceived ideas without ever knowing the other side. “Media is so niche-ified,” Lehrer says, “Now, we can pre-select information that simply confirms what we already believe. People like to believe they're right.”

Science proves that for voters, in the battle between head (logic) and heart (emotion), heart always wins--and the media doesn't always help. (See Jonah Lehrer's blog post on Cable News)

Want to know more about why people make the kinds of decisions they do? Lucky you. Lehrer is coming to Portland this week to lecture on what exactly happens inside our heads when we make choices or come up with new and brilliantly creative ideas.

See Jonah Lehrer:

On Monday, Feb 1, he'll be at the OHSU Brain Awareness Lecture Series at the Newmark Theater (1111 SW Broadway) at 7 pm. Single tickets are $25.

On Tuesday, Feb 2, he will be at the Illahee lecture series at the First Congregational Church (1126 SW Park) at 7:30 pm. Single tickets are $20
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