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Do your political mental representations differ from mine? If you’re a Republican, they probably do.

November 24th, 2015 4 comments

 

Have you ever wondered if people picture others differently in their minds? Is the picture of Barack Obama in your mind different from that in your brother’s mind? Research suggests that depending on the attitudes you have, it might be. A recent study has proposed that political opinions can change the mental pictures we have of politicians.

Image source: http://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/01/30/us/politics/presidential-candidate-tracker-1422646394170/presidential-candidate-tracker-1422646394170-articleLarge-v9.jpg

In cognitive psychology, the concept of pattern recognition is commonly understood as assigning meaning to some incoming stimulus. One example of pattern recognition is face recognition. There are two main systems used for face recognition: analytic and holistic. The holistic approach assigns meaning by using top-down processes. These processes are those that are generated from knowledge or experience that we have about the stimulus. Bottom-up processes, which use the features of a stimulus to ascribe meaning, are prevalent in the analytic approach to face recognition. However, it is the top-down approaches that can help explain why Young, Ratner, and Fazio (2014) found that mental representations of Mitt Romney depend on political affiliations.

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