Voters can easily find an endless amount of information about political issues and candidates from a variety of sources, from the Internet to the media.
The challenge, however, is determining the accuracy of the information and why the content is being shared, said Arthur Lupia, a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford.
Lupia, who wrote the book The Uninformed: Why People Know So Little About Politics and What We Can Do About It, examines how people make decisions when they lack information and how they manage complex information flows.
In this Q&A, he talks about the political situation and how voters are looking for information before going to the polls.
Since your book came out in 2015, has it become easier or harder for people to become more informed about politics?
Today, there are more ways than ever to get information about politics and policy. Online, you can read specific laws, learn about candidates, engage with them on social media, watch legislative hearings, school board meetings, and more. Getting this information has never been easier than it is now. At the same time, if a person never wants to read about politics, there are many other things they can do with their time, including playing thousands of video games or watching billions of videos available online.
What information are people looking for?
Some people want to learn about politics to learn how to improve the quality of life for themselves, their families, and their communities. Some people are interested in learning about others and interacting with others who care about the same things as they do. Some people are more interested in learning how to defend certain points of view and less interested in whether what they say is true. So to answer your question, some people are very interested in getting the most accurate information they can find, some are looking for information that supports their views, and many do a little bit of both.
You teach political communication. How can people understand each other in an election year with polarity?
In an election year, news channels and social media platforms tend to focus on controversial topics where people disagree. These controversies attract viewers, which helps the news and social networks companies make money. But they are not always suitable for truly understanding other people. I teach students the importance of listening, even when they really want to talk. Listening is important because you can learn about other people’s values and concerns. Learning these things can create new ways to find common ground. When it comes to solving real community problems, finding common ground usually yields better results than talking without listening. Students learn to do this, and it changes their lives — even during election years.
Communication can also be found through polls where voters are informed about an issue or a candidate. But why should voters trust them?
There are great surveys and terrible surveys. What I mean by this is that great polls are conducted by people who weigh all points of view very carefully and ask unbiased questions. The University of Michigan has an incredible research center that does great work. There are also professional organizations like the Pew Research Center and Gallup Inc. that not only publish high-quality polling information for everyone to see, but will also give you a lot of information about how they conducted the poll, so you can make up your own mind about whether you like it. is it or not. Big polls can teach us a lot. They can show us how and why people have different preferences. If you want to know if a survey should be trusted, check if they are transparent in their methodology. If they are, then they give you reason to trust them. If they are hiding these things, find someone else you can trust.
University of Michigan
Citation: Voters must wade through political information for accuracy (2022, October 27) Retrieved October 27, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-voters-wade-political-accuracy.html
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