Saturday, September 27, 2008

Real-Time Debate Emotion Fascinating

Last night I watched much of the John McCain / Barack Obama debate on CNN.

During the debate, they had continuous response measurement data across the bottom of the screen. That tracked real-time emotional responses (positive versus negative) across the bottom of the screen with separate lines for Democrats, independents, and Republicans.

Having collected such data in the lab, I was at times more interested in the lines than the candidates.

It also reminded me what a complicated topic emotion can be. Consider the case when the candidate you like (i.e., a positive emotion) attacks the candidate you do not like (i.e., attacks are a negative emotion).

In order to be able to respond in real time, you have to parcel out the good from the bad. And in the end, these voters exhibited that pattern. When McCain attacked, the red line went up. When Obama attacked, the blue line went up.

The critical line, I suppose, was the green line for independents. That line consistently but slightly favored Obama.

In fact, I was pretty amazed that all three lines tended to be slightly higher (I don't have access to the statistics) for Obama than McCain. These were voters from swing state Ohio, so this trend may be indicative or may represent the small sample. There is no way to tell.

Another interesting trend was all three groups' reactions to McCain's repeated pattern of insisting to talk after Jim Lehrer tried to cut him off. It seemed that no matter what McCain said, all three lines stayed low, seemingly punishing him for violating debate etiquite. Again, there is no way to know what they were thinking, but it was a rather consistent trend.

I may tape CNN next time and watch on another network. I like to see the CRM data, but with limited cognitive capacity and all, it is difficult to fully process the arguments while simultaneously tracking three groups' opinions.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Michael Price said...

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