Amnesic Voting

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Amnesia does not necessarily impair a person’s ability to make voting decisions. Psychologists studied a group of individuals suffering from a profound form of amnesia that prevented them from forming new memories. The researchers found that even though the individuals could not remember any facts about political candidates they had previously been shown information about, they nevertheless were able to pick the candidate whose views aligned most closely with their own. The reason for this, the researchers suggested, is because political views are part of “non-declarative memory” — the part of memory that can’t be consciously recalled, but which still influences behavior. This may have some analogy with voting among the general population. Survey data consistently shows that many voters remember very little about the issue positions of candidates. But even so, they’re able to pick the candidate whose views are most closely aligned with their own.

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