Exposure to national flag brings moderation of political attitudes

December 28th, 2007 - 1:27 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 28 (ANI): Viewing the national flag generally arouses extreme nationalistic and patriotic feelings. However, according to an Israeli study, exposing people to a subliminal image of the national flag moderates such political attitudes.

The study, led by psychologist Ran Hassin at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, revealed that subliminal presentation of a national symbol affects not only political attitudes, but also voting intentions and actual voting in general elections.

The findings were based on a set of experiments, which examined the effects of the subliminal presentation of the national flag on over 300 participants.

The team divided volunteers into two groups: those who strongly identified with Israeli nationalism and those who identified with it only weakly.

The volunteers were quizzed about their attitude to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after being shown a brief image of an Israeli flag or a control image.

The image appeared for sometime, long enough to be registered by the brain but not long enough for conscious awareness.

Volunteers who had viewed the flag shifted their position towards the middle ground: both right-wingers and left-wingers became less extreme.

It was also found that it influenced the way participants voted in national elections.

“I think these results are interesting for two reasons. First, they provide sound empirical evidence for the non-conscious ways in which national ideologies subtly affect our thoughts and behaviours. We are now extending this research to examine what other ideologies can do so and in what ways this is expressed, Hassin said.

“Secondly these results significantly extend the empirical knowledge regarding the nature and influences of unconscious processes. We are now investigating the mental mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon, and I am confident that this journey will yield new insights to our understanding of the cognitive unconscious and hence, of consciousness itself, he added.

Hassin said that the Israeli flag represents a sense of national unity, and when people are reminded of that, they are drawn towards that ideology.

The study is published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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