Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #538
Behavior Analysis of the Voters’ Quandary in 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Area: CSE/TPC; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Donald K. Pumroy (University of Maryland)
Discussant: Roger W. McIntire (University of Maryland)
Abstract: The coming election in the fall of 2008 is going to be different from any election in the past. Campaigning for the presidency will involve more people, will last for a longer period of time, will be more complex (and probably more negative) and set a new record for the money spent. The elections for the House and Senate will be viewed as more important than usual. The attempt of both parties to try to gain control of both branches will be seen as crucial. Issues are extremely important for each party and for the country. Some issues such as the war in Iraq, Social Security, health insurance, immigration, the economy, education, global warming and the role of science on the government stand out. The first paper helps the voter defend against misleading emotional manipulations. The second paper explores the role and impact of the conservative talk-radio and its effect on the voters. The third paper views the attempt of the political parties to influence senior citizens and to capture their votes.
Defending Against Emotional Manipulations of the Voter.
LEOPOLD O. WALDER (Behavior Service Consultants, Inc.)
Abstract: In papers delivered at ABAI in 2006 (“Patriotism and the Behavior Analysis of Terrorism”) and in 2007 (“A Behavioral View of Manipulations of Voting Behavior”) this author has surveyed over the centuries the nefarious use of emotional manipulations to sway the opinions of the populace. These manipulations have used such stampeding calls as “terrorism” and “patriotism” to interfere with – even squash – reason in the face of fear- and anger-producing challenges. We cited from history and from current times many egregious examples of contriving and hyping events to seize power by the use and misuse of fear and anger. The current paper brings these analyses up-to-date closer to our current nationwide election. The first paper looked at the broad sweep of history in manufactured wars, the second paper looked at the more recent misuse of such words as terrorism, and this third paper examines the use of emotional manipulations in the current presidential primary and election for national office. All three papers apply behavior analytic concept to not only seek scientific understanding but also to offer to the voter ways of seeing through these manipulations which are designed to gain power by subterfuge.
Analysis of the Content of Conservative Talk Radio Shows.
DONALD K. PUMROY (University of Maryland)
Abstract: The coming election in the fall of 2008 and the events leading up to it are going to be most exciting. There are many different aspects of the election but one that will loom large is conservative talk-radio and its influence on the voters. The focus of this paper is on the content of two of probably the most popular radio shows, the Rush Limbaugh Show and Sean Hannity Show. Each of these shows is on three hours per day, Monday through Friday, or 30 hours per week. The shows are broadcast through out the country and are said to emanate from over 500 radio stations. This paper is focused on an analysis of the topics covered in these two shows and the amount of time spent on topics in the program. A sampling of half-hour periods will be taken from the two shows at random times. Each sampling will then be analyzed for content and duration. The data will be divided into time spent on reference to Democrats and Republicans. Other relevant categories will be reviewed. Conclusion will be drawn from the data.
Perceptions of Aging and Voter Turnout.
JUDY G. BLUMENTHAL (Association for Behavior Change)
Abstract: The outcome of the 2008 presidential elections will be due in large part to voter turnout. As evident from past elections, a tremendously high percent of the aging population will cast their vote and influence election outcome. Nonetheless, perception of aging and ageism is real and the senior voters will make a difference and, consequently, appears to influence where candidates and pollsters spend their time and resources. Through a behavioral analysis, those who live and work in a political world will learn that courting the aging voter can increase the chance of leading in the polls; perhaps win the respective election. Along with a behavior analysis of peer influence and group pressures that influence aging voter behavior, it would behoove political experts to identify antecedent conditions as well as the consequences that can influence older voters. The issues that appear to have more importance for the senior citizens will be analyzed and discussed.



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