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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 17 2013: I think if people vote for a party line, voting does not add nor detract from their feelings for that party and the feelings against the other parties. I have seen in the US that people will cross party lines for individuals they like. The best example would be Ronald Reagan and the Reagan Democrats

    I am not sure about Germany but I would imagine that the rise of the right wing parties are due to economic issues, blaming it on others, and the disillusionment with the current system (i.e. told go to college and you will have a job for life even if the college degree has no meaningful value in industry.)
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      Aug 21 2013: Thank you for your answer!
      You said that there are people switching because of individuals. Maybe the influence of congnitive dissonance is small, when the parties are represented more by individuals than by content. Sounds good to me.
      You feel sympathy towards an indiviudual, but he/she does not run again, then it is very easy to cross party lines to vote for another person from the other party.
      So, is this favorable, or not?
      With the rise of the right wing, I totally agree with you! My question was not that well put. I should have asked about the consequences of cognitive dissonance. My thoughts just wandered til there... :D
      In the long run, what would be the consequences? How many left parties can one country bear? How many parties in total? Is there a better way without parties, but still democratic? Is there a better way, which is not really democratic but still legitimate? http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_x_li_a_tale_of_two_political_systems.html
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        Aug 21 2013: RE: "It is morning and the world still looks. . . " You have never met anyone who disagrees with your definitions of political Left and Right? You must be hanging with a mutual admiration society who all agree about precisely what to promote, and what to vilify. . . it sounds like a very strong party affiliation. What do you call yourselves and what do you all want? As for conversation surely you know that ad hominem attacks and sweeping generalizations are not a good way to establish a meaningful exchange of views where progress toward Truth is possible. Your profanity and animosity hampers the sort of dialog TED is meant to promote. Clean-up your act and engage in calm, impersonal discussion of this important matter. Perhaps I could then learn something from you. Give it a try, you'll like it!.
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          Aug 21 2013: I am sorry that my reply sounded rude.
          But I really never met someone like you. And I would have liked you to do the test, because it inspired me. I hadn't had much time. I apologize.

          Of course, my definitions of Left and Right are very different from the common definition, which sees Left and Right as opposites, which they are not. One could go with the common definition and can try to discuss about politics, but I think it would not lead to truth, if you think that Left and Right are opposites.
          From my point of view (and of politicalcompass), a political systems has an economic and a political part. The economic part describes how freely the capital can flow, how income and value are distributed, or should be distributed as to the ideologie. Of course these are complex matters, but I think you could find a position between capitalism and communism, which are definitions, and maybe we also have to discuss those.
          On the political part you can find a system between dictatorship and anarchy.

          Now it is important; what would you like to have? what is realistic? what should we achieve know to get closer to our wish?

          Some would say it is more important to direct the economy towards communism even accepting dictatorship. Some would say that freedom is more important.

          You see that this view on political systems is very good for discussion. It does not have these terms of Left and Right being opposites.

          What "we" call "ourselves"? Hm. For my ideals, well you could say ideology...
          I would call myself a cosmopolitan. Carl Sagans books and videos inspired me to think out of national borders. I like the movements "Anonymous" (V for Vendetta) and "Occupy Wallstreet". I am also a vegan, because I was inspired by Peter Singers book "Practical Ethics". (Preference utilitarianism) I also do not believe in free will. :D

          I hope this is a better basis for future discussions. :)
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        Aug 21 2013: RE: "I am sorry that my reply. . . " Apology accepted. Nice to meet you Till. I took the test (which has some obvious bias). My mark is almost perfectly dead center, touching all four quadrant lines. May I take a guess at the burr under your saddle? You think people are what they are politically because that is what their parents are? It just ain't so. When it comes to participating in the operation of one's nation (I can really only comment on the USA) there is an ongoing, rapid deterioration of citizen involvement. The apatheic, politically ignorant masses are NOT a reflection of their parents who were, and are, active registered voters who make their power count in the voting booth. Upcoming generations have lapsed into hopelessness regarding politics. The problem is not mindless people voting the way their parents vote. The problem is people not voting at all. Those who vote are more intelligent than you give them credit for. You imply that Conservatives are just parroting their role models. Not so. Conservatives want to RESTOTE and CONSERVE the nation we once had which was rigidly in compliance with our Constitution. Liberals want to continue moving away from that Constitution toward a different national identity. I suggest you are over-simplifying and generalizing. I know you are seriously underestimating those who disagree with your Cosmopolitan (?) politics.
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          Aug 21 2013: Nice to meet you too. Thank you for taking the test. I hope is was no waste of time, in your eyes. ;)
          I do not think that that the political views of the parents matters that much. I can observe this on my own person. My parents were always environmentalists, or so they thought. They still eat meat and consume diary products, which is not very ecological. They have been paying attention for local food, which I support. But my political views started to differ very early. So, in the end, of course I was positively influenced by my parents, but my brother and I also influenced our parents. My father and I discussed a lot, and by showing him documentaries and other interesting videos like political speeches, we both became more liberal.
          Because of that, I think that the internet has a greater influence than the parents.

          Some time ago I started to think, that democracy is not very suitable for large groups. In early Greek, democracy was not dealing with large numbers of people.
          There is also the problem of collective stupidity. As individuals humans are very intelligent, no question, but we have systems with lead to bad results.
          From my point of view there is a negative selection in parties. Those who are not following the instructions from above are removed, leaving those which weaker character.

          As for Conservatives... what is your definition? When I hear the word "Conservative" I think about free market and its horrible consequences, export of weapons to unstable countries, less welfare, the rich should get richer, the poor do not care, negative feelings about immigrants.
          What I think Conservatives think: "We have to free the market, so that the economy grows, so that the country is better off. We have to defend our traditions against multiculturalism, because they matter to us. We have to preserve our Constitution, because it is a good basis for our country."
          How close do I get? For me, it really is hard to comprehend, but I know everyone has their reasons.

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