Habits, Mental Health and Voting: Citizens with Poor Mental Health Rely Less on Predispositions to Make their Voting Decisions

Luca Bernardi (ULIV- The University of Liverpool)

7th of Novembre, 13:00h, Sala de Juntes de la Facultat de Ciències Polítiques i Sociologia de la UAB.
Political habits and predispositions are among the most important explanatory factors of voter’s decisions. Building on research from emotion and politics and from cognition and decision making under depression and anxiety, we argue that mental health moderates the relationship between political predispositions and party support. Our argument goes in line with previous research suggesting that anxiety inhibits reliance on political predispositions and that anxious and depressed individuals process information more systematically. Using survey data on political attitudes in Spain we find that citizens with poor mental health are indeed less influenced by Left-Right and partisan orientations when making their voting decisions. In further sensitivity analyses we find support for a possible explanatory mechanism: citizens with poor mental health show higher levels of anxiety and fear associated with the policy problems that are most important to them. Our findings are relevant for our understanding of the psychology of voting as mental health problems like depression and anxiety are increasingly important in our societies.