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To what degree is sympathy towards a political party caused by the act of voting? (Cognitive dissonance)

Imagine being a first-time-voter, uninformed about the different political parties. It is easy to see, that you are likely to vote for the same party as your parents. Maybe you felt sympathy to that party before. Perhaps you did not care.

My question is, does the sympathy rise because of the act of voting?

You do not want to admit that you did a mistake. You start to filter information to match your action.
But cognitive dissonance is more than that: In an election there are always alternatives. You have to compromise, causing a cognitive dissonance, especially when your choice was wrong. You want to solve the dissonance by devaluing the alternative and appreciating the party you voted for.

This could also explain, why voters sometimes dislike rather similar parties more than differing parties. I see this in left parties in Germany.
I think it affects left parties more than other parties, because they want to help the poor, which is a very important and emotional topic.
Could this be a cause for the uprise of right parties? The left parties quarrel and the right parties rejoice? Can we overcome cognitive dissonance to act in concert?

What do you think about this?


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  • Aug 20 2013: My view is probably exactly opposite to the cognitive dissonance as you described. If you look at the election historey in the U. S. , you would see that the most important factor has been the dissatisfaction of the party in power at the time. As Ed has said, there are usually 2 or more parties which have reasonable popularity to get elected, but no absolute dominance. In the U. S., there has been a group of independents who often tipped the the balance of the election for the two major parties. In Europe, there could be one or more well organized minor parties which serves as the determining forces. However, the election outcomes in the U. S. have been following the pattern that the party in power was falling in disfavor after a number of years that they were rejected by the independents together with some "switch hitters" who "RECOGNIZED" THEIR "MISTAKES" and came out with a vengeance to "correct" their past mistakes.
    This also can be confirmed by the fact that the opinion rating of the the party in power was most likely dropped to lower than 50% representing the dissatisfaction of the voters at that time.
    The major problem is that the policy on either "the welfare for the poor" or the "economic growth" seemed always ended in the dilemma of like or dislike by two substantially equal proportion of voters or people. Take Europe, for instance, it is currently in the stage of reverting from the welfare for the "poor" to economic growth. Isn'i it?
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      Aug 21 2013: Thank you for your answer!
      The dissatisfaction of the party in power is a flaw of the system itself, I think.
      In a democatry it is always the same: The political parties make promises they can not keep. The people are angry and vote another party, but it is same thing again.
      In Germany, I think, it could be different, if it was not for the stupid people... ;)
      As you might have concluded, I am a leftie. And we have 2 left parties with very good ideas, but they only get 11-12% combined. It is horrible. 40% of the voters, so maybe 28% of all over 18, vote for the CDU. They say they are "christian", so all the old, religious people vote them. Every selection I hope it changes, but it does not.
      The welfare for the poor works quite good, compared to other countries, but I do not think that it was ever a primarily goal of the government. As you said, the economic "growth" is important. In the last years the wages dropped to export more. Which is pretty stupid, because the workers and their families suffer. And other countries, which import more than they export get economical problems.
      I think the politicians know all this, but they think it is okay.
      We could ask Edward, maybe he can understand their way of thinking.

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