The social scientists behind Obama’s victory

This year’s USA presidential elections were very exciting and contested, but  perhaps less obviously ground breaking than the previous ones. However, important structural shifts have happened in the way in which the campaign is conceived, organised, and carried out. In a nutshell, the campaign has never been so scientific. As one of the scientists in the team, psychologist Dr Craig Fox , said,

“Before then I felt like we had to sell ourselves; this time there was a real hunger for our ideas.”

It is well know that the campaign benefited from collaboration with the Analyst Institute (Washington-based voter research group established in 2007 by union officials to aid Democratic candidates). The important role of a group of unpaid academic advisors is perhaps less known. This “consortium of behavioral scientists,” or COBS, included Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University;Samuel L. Popkin of the University of California, San Diego; Robert Cialdini, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University; Richard H. Thaler, a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago’s business school; and Michael Morris, a psychologist at Columbia. Read more about their contribution to the campaign in the full article in the NYTimes here.

Photo collage by Charis Tsevis, Flickr,

Categories: Higher Education

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