A new study from Boston University researchers was released recently that used biometric technology to measure participants reactions to presidential candidates.
The study was conducted by the university’s College of Communication’s Communication Research Center (CRC) and looked to measure the physiological reactions to presidential candidates from 22 volunteer participants of voting age.
The participants were asked to read a short biography (which included a photo) of each of the candidates and answer questions about them, while biometric sensors tracked such metrics as their eye movements, facial expressions, and galvanic skin response (perspiration), which is considered a reliable indicator of emotional arousal.
“With this kind of biometric study you are able to capture insights that you wouldn’t get with a traditional study,” said Susannah Blair, lab and research manager at the CRC. “The results may be a little more reliable because you’re tapping into some subconscious emotional responses,” she added.
The study was conducted at the request of the State House News Service, and following the results the candidates were given a numerical rating based on the positive and negative emotions they elicited from the participants.
The results from the 22 participants — 11 men and 11 women — showed that former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg (who recently dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination) was the candidate that produced the most positive emotions among both genders.
Meanwhile, current President Donald Trump elicited the most negative emotions among men, while Senator Bernie Sanders evoked the most negative emotions among women.
Former vice president Joe Biden evoked the most anger, while Senator Amy Klobuchar (who has also since dropped out) the most disgust, Buttigieg produced the most joy, and Sanders the most sadness. Out of all the Democratic candidates, Senator Elizabeth Warren produced the most negative emotions, and Trump elicited the most surprise and fear.
“While the self-reported data show that Sanders received highest scores on qualities such as moral, trustworthy, and approachable—qualities that were strongly associated with voting intention—the biometric data offers a more in-depth look at ways in which people physiologically respond to these candidates,” said Mina Tsay-Vogel, a member of the research team that conducted the study.
“The fact that Sanders induced the most emotional intensity among respondents in the study tells us that he is doing a good job at engaging prospective voters,” she added.
Blair expressed her surprise at how much of a disparity the research team found between male and female respondents, with women displaying far fewer negative emotions than men, and more positive responses overall.
“It was also surprising to find such a negative response to Elizabeth Warren here in her home state, where you would expect her to be the favorite,” added Blair.
Source: The Brink
March 4, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis