Elections – Application of Social Psychology
There an unquestionable pride in voting during the elections. Results become only secondary to this. The American Elections issue out small stickers with ‘I voted’ sprawled on it. Not only does it sound fun to stick something like that on you, but the pride is also a factor. There is a much greater significance in this little sticker, one you may not have thought of.
Judith Hall is a distinguished professor at Northeastern University. Not only that, but she is an expert in nonverbal communication and social psychology. “It makes the wearer proud. It reaffirms the values people have, and their self-concept as a good citizen,” said Hall. “The sticker serves as a function for the self.” It’s no wonder that people get disappointed when they don’t get a sticker of their own. The stickers, according to Hall, is a symbol of severe peer-pressure. Conformity is at play here. The sticker reminds people about voting in case they have forgotten to do so or weren’t planning on doing it. The stickers stimulate people’s need to win social acceptance. People will achieve this by conforming to the ‘trend’ that society normalises over time. “Everyone has conformity motives, no matter who they are,” Hall says. “No one enjoys the guilt.”
Those tiny stickers have a social signaling power. Hall even speculates of the consequences if “I am going to vote!” stickers would have been distributed before the election. It would have made the impact much more powerful and intense, she feels.
“People who commit to doing something are far more likely to do it than otherwise,” states Hall. “Not honoring such a commitment triggers what we call ‘cognitive dissonance’. In other words, it is knowing that one has behaved in a way that’s inconsistent with one’s values or prior promises. Dissonance is a powerful motivator of behavior.”