Behavioral science is being used more and more to “market” political candidates. According to an article in Motherboard, both the Trump and Brexit campaigns used Facebook data to create personality profiles that could identify the characteristics of voters, enabling messaging that would appeal to their cultural biases. If you were African American, the Trump campaign could direct an anti-Clinton message at you to dissuade you from voting for Hillary. If your personality profile showed that you were fearful, you’d get a message about how guns could protect you from dangerous people. If you were not fearful, you’d get a message about family values.
This successful combination of behavioral psychology and marketing is moving our political system away from reasoned arguments and toward a form of manipulation customized to appeal to our personal biases. I want to show how learning how to get the felt sense of a situation helps one move beyond the emotional triggers that permit people to be manipulated.