Human psychology, the referendum and the aftermath

(107 Posts)
sorenofthejnaii Wed 29-Jun-16 18:01:45

It's fascinating. I wonder what the human psychologists are making of this.
How decisions were made and what influenced them. How much we justified them and then searched for data to justify them.

The role of soundbites to appeal to our view.
Looking at the same information but interpreting it relative to the views you hold.
Hindsight bias.
How people are reacting afterwards.

There must be a lot of people analysing the referendum and observing human behaviour afterwards. Social media must give a fascinating insight.

The Human zoo on R4 was fascinating in the run up to the referendum on how we humans behave.

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036tbly

Namehanger Wed 29-Jun-16 18:18:17

I am so ANGRY, mostly with the idiots who got us into this mess. Lying, rabble rousing, no plan but somehow that isn't a problem democracy must stand. How about respect, not the manipulation of statistics and telling the bloody truth.

I am getting more ANGRY, not less! And randomn people keep telling me that the media is so negative and 'remainders' should get over it. These are through my work life, I don't start these conversations and I can not tell them my true feelings.

wowfudge Wed 29-Jun-16 21:13:12

I sympathise - it's a favourite topic of conversation where I work and we are all remainers so I can share my feelings. I feel as though we are now in a kind of twilight zone. The vote happened, the outcome devastating, but nothing is happening. It's the uncertainty that is the killer.

sorenofthejnaii Wed 29-Jun-16 21:34:13

I am fascinated by how the brain works and makes decisions. Right now, we are being presented with a lot of facts and half truths. But I bet we are all processing them differently.

The FTSE 250 has recovered slightly. The DM is saying that is a good sign but I think that it's only one small indicator. Is that because the DM was leave and I am remain.

It is really hard to see things objectively.

MajesticWhine Wed 29-Jun-16 21:50:12

I am a psychologist, and a remainer. It's interesting. I feel far far more devastated about this than I could have ever predicted. I was fairly undecided and about 51% in favour of remain a few weeks back. There is something about this that has been very polarizing. I'm trying to think of a psychological explanation. It maybe something about the behaviour of groups and the tendency to adopt an extreme position, maybe to improve cohesiveness and decrease anxiety of the group.

sorenofthejnaii Wed 29-Jun-16 21:56:43

What do you think of the 'biases' involved?

Hindsight bias and confirmation bias seem relevant at the moment.

Namehanger Wed 29-Jun-16 22:00:38

I am a lawyer, believe in analysis, understand that most things in life are quite grey. Also I have a strong interest in global politics etc.. I have been devouring the papers.

What annoys me is the leavers, mostly, do not appear to have thought through the consquences. That is what angers me the most. If it was a thought through position I would be much calmer and accept it. Because yes I understand that the world has not fallen in, listening to a radio 4 programme about refugees in Greece this afternoon puts it all into perspective.

caitlinohara Wed 29-Jun-16 22:02:28

The Moral Maze on R4 was very good this evening on this. Truly chilling was the man who was arguing that voting should be weighted so that younger voters would get 1.5 votes and older voters just 1, because the outcome would not affect them so much confused. I thought the people cross examining him were quite restrained, I'm afraid I would have resorted to actual violence. angry

Remainers seem to be fluctuating between angry and sad - Leavers between guilt and defiance. It's not terribly helpful. I'm not sure how Scotland felt after their referendum, but I don't remember there being quite so much divisiveness. Perhaps if their vote had gone the other way there would have been.

caitlinohara Wed 29-Jun-16 22:09:24

Thing is, as has been observed, you can throw all the 'facts' at people, but we don't trust them anymore, because we don't believe that the people providing the 'facts' are independent of politics, and they often aren't. I wonder how many people REALLY made their decision based on the figures? Are Remainers just more risk averse, and are Leavers blinkered idealists? I am not a psychologist by the way, but I can see the appeal of this for a thesis!

sorenofthejnaii Wed 29-Jun-16 22:11:29

caitlinohara

That's so true - and again, human psychology on how we make decisions and what influences us.

I bet this period is a great case study for future generations. They can look at MN threads to get evidence grin

MajesticWhine Wed 29-Jun-16 22:11:52

Yes confirmation bias certainly.
Also consider the defence mechanism known as reaction formation. Lets say you feel worried about the economy and so want to vote remain. But you are not crazy about immigration making you want to leave. The leave part becomes unacceptable (intra psychic ally) so you adopt an extreme opposite view to suppress that part of your thinking.

sorenofthejnaii Wed 29-Jun-16 22:17:04

The leave part becomes unacceptable (intra psychic ally) so you adopt an extreme opposite view to suppress that part of your thinking

I've not heard that but it's interesting. The human brain is an interesting place. Maybe this should also be part of education at school - along with critical thinking and awareness of politics.

sorenofthejnaii Sat 02-Jul-16 07:47:49

The interesting reaction now may be cognitive dissonance and the justification of a decision once you've made it. I am sure some people were conflicted about their decision with lots of pros and cons but made up their mind and now seek to justify it.

Once it's been made,people look to anything to justify it (and minimise any evidence that may have backed up their concerns they had about the decision) whilst highlighting any positives about that decision to others.

Fascinating - and something that is going on on this forum right now.

BombadierFritz Sat 02-Jul-16 08:06:41

What worries me more is the danger of opening pandoras box and the dangers of mob rule, the rule of emotion over reason, the disdain for intellectual argument and academics (see goves experts), the othering of difference. Hard to put the lid back on. Easy to exploit. A good study in the psychology behind the rise of facism.

sorenofthejnaii Sat 02-Jul-16 08:16:07

History shows us that academics and intellectuals have been treated with worse than disdain sad in the past. Look at the killing fields, China and other purges.

Roonerspism Sat 02-Jul-16 08:22:04

I would say the Scottish referendum had a far more robust debate. The case for staying in the UK was badly made initially (think Project Fear) and then a bright spark had the idea to make the case positive.

It was AWFUL afterwards but the decision to stay in proven to be correct soon after with the collapsing oil price. Rifts do heal.

This feels much worse and I feel it's because there is such a class divide. I'm a highly educated Leaver in Scotland so somewhat unusual! I am baffled and saddened by reactions on both sides.

I have never assumed that common sense and intellect is based on having undergone higher education, however.

Destinysdaughter Sat 02-Jul-16 08:25:20

This is a fascinating article about how right wing politicians harness the power of disgust to further their cause.

www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/2016/jun/21/donald-trump-politics-of-disgust

neolara Sat 02-Jul-16 08:30:47

I read a newsnight survey today that said the 5% of leavers expressed bregret. I'm gobsmacked that it's not more given the utter shambles of the aftermath.. Are people just in denial? Or don't care? Or is sticking with their decision their way of dealing with feelings of guilt?

NameChanger22 Sat 02-Jul-16 08:31:57

I voted remain. I campaigned for people to remain because I thought long and hard about some of the consequences and I predicted that once people started to realise what could happen there would be lots of unhappiness and civil unrest.

There are a few different reasons people voted to leave, many of the 17 million just didn't give it enough thought. I think that group will feel very guilty in the short to medium term when they see themselves and other people suffering as a result of their decision. Some other leavers will continue to blame others forever, those are the people that are most worrying. Scapegoating easily escalates.
.

sorenofthejnaii Sat 02-Jul-16 08:34:19

Or is sticking with their decision their way of dealing with feelings of guilt

Sticking with a decision is human nature. Admitting you made a mistake is difficult. (and I am sure that goes for people on both sides who are sticking to their decision and justifying it)

It must be hard to overcome such human biases.

Mistigri Sat 02-Jul-16 08:46:37

I wonder how many people REALLY made their decision based on the figures? Are Remainers just more risk averse, and are Leavers blinkered idealists?

Much of the remain vote was probably based on an imperfect understanding of the issues, but if you look at the educational split of voting, there is no doubt that remainers were, on average, somewhat better equipped to evaluate a complex and nuanced situation. But even so, most of us were poorly placed to make a fully reasoned decision.

I work in forecasting, and I'm well aware of how even highly educated and expert people inadvertently let their biases influence decisions. We debate this all the time at work, and we are generally working within well delimited scenarios, which people voting in the referendum weren't.

It was a stupid question to put to a referendum - what this has taught us, if anything, is that referendums are not a good way to resolve difficult questions. If you have to have them, they should ask voters to choose between two very carefully defined and limited scenarios.

caitlinohara Sat 02-Jul-16 08:48:06

sore I think that's s very valid point actually. The overriding attitude of journalists seems to be "well obviously you should have voted Remain". It just seems far too early to call. If everything settles down, will Remainers be prepared to accept that they may have been wrong, or will they always say it wasn't worth it? If it doesn't, will I always think it was worth the risk? I read somewhere about Remainers being more risk averse and in the Ashcroft poll the majority of Remainers said they voted as they did because the risks of Brexit were too great.

Rooner I think the effects of a 2nd Scottish referendum would be less easily healed, would they not? What do you think would be the outcome?

sorenofthejnaii Sat 02-Jul-16 08:48:08

It was a stupid question to put to a referendum

You'd have hoped history would have taught us that lesson. It seems it hasn't.

Mistigri Sat 02-Jul-16 08:50:35

I read a newsnight survey today that said the 5% of leavers expressed bregret. I'm gobsmacked that it's not more given the utter shambles of the aftermath.. Are people just in denial? Or don't care? Or is sticking with their decision their way of dealing with feelings of guilt?

Confirmation bias - they are mainly talking to other leave voters and consuming media which broadly support their decision. And there's probably an element of enjoyment (this applies to both sides btw) in watching rich, famous and powerful people getting their comeuppance.

Many voters don't follow politics that closely, and so far, very few people will have been directly exposed to the economic impacts.

caitlinohara Sat 02-Jul-16 08:52:54

mistigri I'm not sure how that could be achieved though, since so much of Brexit now depends on negotiations that have not yet (and could not have yet) taken place.

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