Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Scientific aspects of campaigning and winning or losing an election

The general elections are on the horizon. And, quite soon, campaigning will start at fever pitch.  Let us try to understand the scientific aspects of campaigning and winning or losing an election.

Campaigning involves all modules of advertising. The success of a campaign is based on the principle of collective consciousness, which is the critical mass above which the intended message spreads rapidly.

It has been scientifically observed and proved that rumors spread like wild fire once the critical mass of 1% in the general population is achieved. This is the principle on which advertisements in newsprints and in electronic media work.

To put it in the context of elections, if 1% of your voters feel that you should win, it is quite possible that you will win.

This observation is based on the 100th-monkey phenomenon.

“In 1952, on the island of Koshima in Japan, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkey liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant. An female monkey named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother and her playmates. One monkey taught another to wash sweet potatoes who taught another who taught another and soon all the monkeys on the island were washing potatoes where no monkey had ever washed potatoes before. When the "hundredth" monkey learned to wash potatoes, suddenly and spontaneously and mysteriously monkeys on other islands, with no physical contact with the potato-washing cult, started washing potatoes. The critical mass in that area therefore was 100.”

This is the principle used by the politicians in their election campaign. They ensure that the critical mass is achieved. For example, in a gathering of 1000 people, at least 10 of their own people would be sitting in the meeting as audience. These 10 people will clap at appropriate times during the meeting and then the remaining 990 members of the audience will also follow suit and clap. For a gathering of 2000, the critical mass is 20 people and for 10,000, it is 100 people.

Rumors are also used as one of the main weapon in political campaigning. You can plant your people in your opponent’s political meetings and start spreading rumors or falsehoods. This also works on the same principle of 1% or critical mass.

The mind is not able to recall what it has seen or heard for less than 10 seconds. Hence, when you want to pass on a message to the audience, it has to be flashed for at least 10 seconds. During campaigning, candidates gloss over what they do not want the voters to recollect and speak at length on issues that they want them to remember.

The other aspect of campaigning is what happens if you lose or win an election. 

If you lose, you are likely to go into depression for 3 months but one has to even present this loss positively. Politicians never contest elections only to win and even a lost candidate has a lot to gain in the long run.

But, many physical and biochemical changes are seen in the person who wins. A victory boosts the levels of serotonin in the blood. The person starts performing better, sleeps less during the night and produces results which he may have never produced in the past.

This can be explained scientifically.

Normally, serotonin and melatonin levels work in harmony, despite their opposite effects. . Serotonin increases in the daytime and melatonin at the nighttime. While serotonin causes aggression, aggressiveness and produces vigor, melatonin is responsible for the sleep and resting state of the body. But, the sense of power a victory brings alters the chemistry in the blood and in the brain. The levels of serotonin levels are higher in such a state.

Delivering a speech before a gathering of large number of people is not the same as that given in a TV studio. The speech becomes aggressive and often impressive as the public cheers.

Then, the tone of campaigning may vary from positive to negative.

A positive campaign projects your vision and how you plan to execute it. A negative campaign, on the other hand, highlights the deficiencies of your opponents.

People who have a negative approach may ultimately develop high blood pressure, diabetes, acidity or suffer from heart attack, paralysis and cancer. Negative emotions produce negative chemistry, responsible for deposition of fat in various arteries and causation of cancer.

In the long run, a person with positive approach will always win.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA

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