Neuropolitics and Facial Coding
It is a fact that we are witnessing a change in the way of political campaigning. A change resulting from various factors, including a more informed and connected citizen and whose role is not only to receive information, but can create, generate content and widely disseminated through social networks. Undoubtedly, new technologies have marked a before and after in the electoral strategies. But social networks are just a vehicle for what really is a new paradigm: emotional communication. Undoubtedly, reflect of all changes are the new communication structures that have a single objective: to emotionally connect with citizens.
It exists a need for emotional connection within the current electoral strategies. Neuroscience has shown that emotions strongly influence the voting decision beyond the belief that we purely take political decisions rationally.
Last years we have seen how the strategists want their candidates to connect emotionally with citizens. In this way, marketing has been a great ally and we saw the candidate becoming a brand. Conceptualizing the candidate as a brand involves assigning values and key objectives within a branding strategy, and all the key is certainly the loyalty, brand loyalty, which generates not only intention but buy action. Taken to the realm of politics we would be looking for brand awareness, knowledge of the candidate and an emotional bond to give us voting translated into fidelity. We know that loyalty is a feeling beyond the rational, which leads to the need to structure strategies focused on the emotional and not only on the rational if we achieve that goal loyalty. The importance of this emotional bond has been demonstrated by neuroscientific research that have defined the political behavior and in particular the decision to vote, like any process of decision-making, is not only rational and the emotional factor is a key element. This means that the vast majority of the decisions that we do not pass the rational filter and they are influenced by emotional insights that are etched in our emotional memory, conditioning our actions beyond pure cost-benefit logic.
We know that people are emotional and not rational in their decision making. In the field of neuropolitics, knowledge of brain functioning has revealed that our political behavior is related to our emotions and that it has a vital role in our rationality. Thus Descartes’ conception of human beings as purely rational, through studies of Joseph Ledoux and reaching the “Descartes’ Error” by Antonio Damasio, it was found that we are creatures that rationalize and not rational creatures. In a simplified way, the decision-making process is not a process that begins in reason, the cost-benefit seeks the best results, then leads to action and then causes an emotion. The observation of the neural basis has placed no emotions at the end of this process, but as a fundamental trigger action part. Emotion, action, rationalization. At this moment the emotion is at the apex of the electoral strategy and therefore poses a challenge to new strategies. What people respond in surveys is justification and not the true emotion that triggered the action. So, how do I measure the emotion beyond what citizens can respond in an opinion poll? Combining the technologies of neuroscience with electoral marketing strategies, they have led to the neuropolitics to respond to the subconscious reasons that drive voting decisions.
It exists a clear impact on the methods of traditional market research and new applications in understanding the level of emotional credibility of candidates, derived from the level of congruence between their emotions and whay they verbalize in their speech.
Development and innovation in neuroscience technologies are experiencing unprecedented speed focusing all their efforts on making these tools a less invasive system to ensure that research policy is as close to real life as possible. With this premise, the growth of facial coding or facial emotion recognition, as neuroscientific technology for the analysis of human behavior, achieves both purposes at the same time: it supports the traditional political investigation of a zero-invasive, it opens the door to investigate the generate emotional impact on citizens beyond what they verbalize and allows assessing the candidate himself through the analysis of their emotions compared with his speech to measure whether credible or not.
Emotional connection is the key of the contemporary electoral strategy and neuropolitics through the application of technologies of neuroscience is a new field to learn about the subconscious reasons that drive the behavior of voters. Thus, it can develop strategies to achieve the emotional connection that results not in voting intentions, but in an effective vote.
Co-founder and Emotion Research LAB CEO, specialist emotional researcher through neuroscience (FACIAL CODING) and its impact on voting decision processes.
IMAGE: ©César Toledo