Deception Detection In Non Verbals, Linguistics And Data.

Negative Elections Work Because "Fear Is An Effective Means Of Persuasion".

Studies show that human beings are more motivated by loss than by gain.

If you frame the same message in two different ways, such as..."if you insulate your windows, you will SAVE a dollar a day in heating" compared with "if you fail to insulate your windows, you will LOSE a dollar a day", most people are more motivated to act on the loss message.

(see Robert Cialdini-

The headline above comes from this persuasion study:

It concludes with "the stronger the fear appeal, the greater the chance the individual will accept the recommendation of action."

This helps explain why deceptive negative election campaigns are becoming more common. Chris Mitchell in the Australian laments that so many fellow journalist continued the message uncritically:

"All week journalists from the national broadcaster and much of the print and commercial electronic media seemed to agree with Bill Shorten that Labor’s dishonest Medicare scare had shown up the Coalition for being out of touch with voters.

The 2014 budget recommended a small Medicare co-­payment of exactly the kind Labor wanted to introduce under former prime minister Bob Hawke 25 years ago. It was the only budget since 2010 that sought to deal with the issue S&P is warning about."

Don't think of a purple elephant!!
Of course, when I say that, you think of a purple elephant.

The brain does not automatically process negatives, a basic principle of neurolinguistics. Any negation such as not, don't or un are initially processed subconsciously by the brain in the positive. So if you say to a child,"Don't spill your milk", the child's brain first subconsciously processes spill your milk, and then Don't is added on to the sentence by the conscious brain.

Saying don't makes it more likely that the milk will be spilled. Just like thinking of a purple elephant.
That's why uncaring or nonviolent are weak messages, but also another reason why the negative message in an election campaign stays with us.

But the downside of going negative is that "such ads may work to both shrink and polarize the electorate,” as the political scientists Shanto Iyengar of Stanford has long pointed out.

This was the case with the Australian election, with record numbers of voters leaving the major parties to vote for the independents. Labor had the second lowest number of primary votes in it's history, while the Liberals lost at least 1.7 million voters moving to right of centre independents .

With changing times comes lack of accountability for lies and deceptions during an election. Football players are more likely to be punished for foul play than a politician who lies in an attempt to influence votes. Voting is an emotional process, not a logical one, and when you are trying to sell something, whether a politician or a beer, it can be more effective to sell on an emotional basis instead of relying on the facts.

During the 2010 campaign,  Obama employed 29 behavioural scientist and psychologists, including best selling authors Dan Ariely and Richard Thaler to create proposals to reduce emotions and create reason, and then show the science behind it.

One of the things that came out of this was to never rebuff a negative or deceptive claim with a negation such as not, isn't, doesn't. The claim was made that Obama was a Muslim. The Obama team did not respond with "Obama isn't a Muslim", they responded with a positive statement saying "Obama is a Christian".. and so on.

Responding with a negation such as don't spill your milk is more likely to anchor the spill your milk or Obama is a Muslim or Malcolm Turnbull is going to privatise Medicare, in the mind.

Obama is using science to respond to negative campaigns, something Malcolm Turnbull should have done a long time ago.

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