Political Waffling And Voter Perception

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Eighty undergraduate psychology students participated in an experiment designed to examine the effect of political waffling on voters' opinions of a political candidate. It was proposed that the emotionality of the issue for the voter, the initial similarity of the politician's views to those of the voter, and the presence or absence of changes in attitude over time would all influence the perceived desirability of the candidate. Not all these hypotheses were confirmed.The most consistent finding emerging from this study was the effect of attitude similarity--and consistency of similarity--on subjects' evaluations of politicians. On nearly every measure, the politician who was consistently similar to the subject was viewed more favorably than any other combination of initial and final similarity. Changing from dissimilarity to similarity with the voters was found to help a politician only to a small extent, if at all. Holding fast to an unpopular position gained the politician no votes out of a respect for consistency.


Psychology, Social

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