25 November 2014

Attitudes, Behaviour and Post-Rationalization

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post on the futility of focusing on attitudes: Screw the Attitudes! Go (directly) for Behaviour This post generated a lot of buzz and even some controversy.

This post provides a very illustrative example of the volatility of attitudes.

Less than two weeks ago, Romania elected a new President. You probably know (from this post) that the winner of the elections was the under-dog challenger.  

Yesterday, a sociological research group publicized some very interesting results on public opinion or attitudes.

Before round two of voting, the elected president, then a candidate with slim chances to win, had a confidence – trust level of 25%. Basically, a quarter of the population trusted the then (under-dog) candidate.

After the results of the elections were available and it was clear that the challenger had a surprizing, but clear victory (54.5% to 45.5%), the trust level of the same person skyrocketed. One week after the elections, 61% of the population reported that they trusted the former candidate, now winner.

The picture below shows a screen shot from a TV program that communicated the sociological research.

Picture from Digi24.ro

Not surprisingly, the loser of the elections lost some public confidence.

Before the second round of voting, the Prime-Minister in office who was the favourite candidate to win, had a trust level of 33% - one third of the population trusted him.

One week later after he lost the presidential elections, the trust decreased to 27%.

Picture from Digi24.ro

Another question that is omnipresent in such sociological research is
Is the country going in a good direction?

Before the second round of elections, 24% of people answered: yes.
After the elections, 55% of people answered yes.

Clearly, attitudes are not reliable indicators.  

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