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Leaders, policies and voting: Lessons from measuring Implicit Reaction Time

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New research published today by Ipsos MORI for the 2017 General Election provides an insight into not just what people say about their voting intentions and support for a party or candidate, but also the conviction of these views.


Using a technique called Implicit Reaction Time (IRT), which measures how quickly people express an opinion, the research explores how emphatic people are in their responses regarding their views of the candidates, the political parties, and voting behaviour.

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Leaders, policies and voting: Lessons from measuring Implicit Reaction Time

  1. 1. GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public © 2016 Ipsos. All rights reserved. Contains Ipsos' Confidential and Proprietary information and may not be disclosed or reproduced without the prior written consent of Ipsos. 1 LEADERS, POLICIES & VOTING LESSONS FROM MEASURING IMPLICIT REACTION TIME
  2. 2. 2GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Overview  Implicit Reaction TimeTM (IRT) measures the speed at which people express an opinion. In the context of the upcoming General Election this helps us to understand the extent to which voters hold strong positive associations between: different leadership qualities and Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn; different areas of policy and the Labour Party or Conservative Party; and different statements on voting behaviours.  Ipsos MORI conducted an IRT study among 929 adults aged 18-75 online between 15-17th May 2017. We found that, at this point in the campaign: Voters see Corbyn as in touch with ordinary people, and May as a capable leader who is good in a crisis. Averaging across all attributes tested, May is seen as the best leader overall. Both explicitly and emphatically, Conservatives fare better policies such as defence and security, Brexit, the economy, immigration and taxation, whilst voters prefer Labour’s policies for housing, welfare and benefits, and the NHS. For voters, Brexit is still difficult to understand, with voters finding it most difficult to choose between parties’ policies. Emphatic responses regarding intention to vote are closer to reality than explicit ones, and with only 37% of voters emphatically saying they have ‘definitely decided who to vote for’ suggesting the outcomes of the election is still far from certain.
  3. 3. GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public © 2016 Ipsos. All rights reserved. Contains Ipsos' Confidential and Proprietary information and may not be disclosed or reproduced without the prior written consent of Ipsos. 3 INTRODUCTION
  4. 4. 4GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public What is Implicit Reaction Time (IRT)? • Based on the scientific principle of perceptual fluency, IRT reveals the strength of respondents' unconscious associations, by using response time to measure the distance between two concepts within a neural network. • The closer the association between two concepts (for example, ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ and ‘capable leader’), the more conviction we have and the more quickly and easily we are able to respond. • When things are not closely associated, response times are slow, because it takes more time for us to reconcile or work out the relationship between the two concepts. We process information in two ways: • System 1 “is the brain’s fast, automatic, intuitive approach, • System 2 “the mind’s slower, analytical mode, where reason dominates.”
  5. 5. 5GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Why is this important for GE2017?  The outcome of recent elections has become harder to predict. The debates around Scottish Independence, and UK independence from the EU have increased the number of issues at stake, and have also made it harder to predict voter turnout.  Moreover, the dynamic of choosing who to vote for is never constant: whether voters are most attracted to leaders, policies or parties changes each year. Currently, voters say that leadership is more important in deciding who to vote for in 2017 than it was in 2015.  It is therefore important to try and go beyond the stated answers given in surveys, and seek to uncover the unconscious associations that may ultimately decide who someone votes for.  Ipsos MORI therefore sought to use IRT to help us uncover unconscious associations in three different areas: 1) The extent to which voters hold strong positive associations between different leadership qualities and Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn. 2) The extent to which voters hold strong positive associations between different areas of policy and the Labour Party or Conservative Party. 3) The extent to which voters hold strong positive associations between different statements on voting behaviours.
  6. 6. GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 6 LEADERS: Key findings  May is seen as a more favourable leader than Corbyn on most fronts, seen as the best leader voters overall, by her supporters, and those who voted to Leave. She is also perceived just as well as Corbyn by Remain voters. In contrast, Corbyn has lost ground among 2015 Labour voters – particularly the case for extent of association with: ‘capable leader’, ‘clear vision for Britain’, ‘good in crisis’, ‘good negotiator’, ‘sound judgement’.  With the exception of being ‘in touch with ordinary people’, May is broadly in line with or outperforms Corbyn in all other areas. Though voters are more uncertain whether she is ‘patriotic.’  Among Labour supporters, Corbyn is strongly associated with being ’honest’ and ‘genuine’, but they are less confident he ‘understands Britain’s problems’ or has a ‘clear vision’. Conservative supporters are least convinced that May is ‘patriotic’ or is ‘in touch with ordinary people’ (three in ten chose Corbyn in this attribute).  Associations are closely aligned with age, which become more favourable towards May, particularly with reference to being a ‘capable leader’.
  7. 7. 7GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 10% 25% 34% 43% 19% 38% 22% 44% 45% 29% Voted Leave Voted Remain Voted Labour 2015 Intending to vote Labour All Voted Leave Voted Remain Voted Conservative 2015 Intending to vote Conservative All % Selecting Corbyn/May emphatically % Selecting Corbyn/May overall May is seen as the best leader among all voters overall; 39% 92% 61% 83% Average across all ten attributes 67% 51% 24% 89% 49% 76% perceived better by her supporters and those who voted Leave; and perceived just as well as Corbyn by those who voted Remain. Base: All (929); Intending to vote Conservative (354); Intending to vote Labour (261); Voted Conservative 2015 (264); Voted Labour 2015 (227); Referendum vote ‘Remain’ (398); Referendum vote ‘Leave’ (428); adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  8. 8. 8GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 33% 29% 28% 19% 14% 14% 13% 12% 13% 11% 12% 21% 28% 23% 33% 37% 21% 37% 43% 36% In touch with ordinary people Honest Genuine Understands Britain’s problems Clear vision for Britain Sound judgement Patriotic Good negotiator Capable leader Good in a crisis 61% 48% 48% 48% 35% 34% 31% 30% 28% 28% 39% 52% 52% 52% 65% 66% 69% 70% 72% 72% % Selected Corbyn overall % Selected May overall % Selected Corbyn emphatically % Selected May emphatically For each phrase please select the party leader you think it best describes. May seen to have a strong association with being a capable leader, whereas many less emphatic in saying she is patriotic. Corbyn seen as much more in touch with ordinary people. But overall May is explicitly and emphatically associated with more attributes. Base: 929 adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  9. 9. 9GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public % Selected Corbyn overall (those voting Labour only) % Selected May overall (those voting Conservative only) % Selected Corbyn emphatically (those voting Labour only) % Selected May emphatically (those voting Conservative only) 39% 34% 69% 26% 26% 62% 62% 27% 37% 45% Capable leader Clear vision for Britain Genuine Good in a crisis Good negotiator Honest In touch with ordinary people Patriotic Sound judgement Understands Britain’s problems 63% 52% 48% 53% 57% 37% 20% 27% 58% 39% 77% 84% 95% 70% 73% 93% 96% 67% 83% 93% 100% 99% 89% 100% 98% 86% 68% 92% 98% 89% Conservative supporters are much more emphatic about May a capable leader, having sound judgement, and being a good negotiator, while Labour supporters are more emphatic that Corbyn is genuine, honest, and in touch with ordinary people. Base: Intending to vote Conservative (354); Intending to vote Labour (261) adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  10. 10. 10GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 24% 22% 21% 26% 10% 38% Average across all ten attributes % Selected Corbyn overall % Selected May overall % Selected Corbyn emphatically % Selected May emphatically 18-34 35-54 55+ 51% 49% 44% 56% 22% 78% Neck and neck overall, however May much more associated with being a capable leader, good in a crisis & good negotiator May ahead here, but Corbyn seen as more in touch. 40% emphatic that May is capable leader May more associated with all attributes, but in particular being a capable leader and sound judgement (50%+ emphatic) Clear pattern of older participants more likely to view May favourably, with those 55+ around 4 times as likely to pick May over Corbyn, both overall and emphatically. Base: 18-34 (253); 35-54 (332); 55+ (344) adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  11. 11. GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 11 PARTIES: Key findings  The Conservative Party is seen as having the best policies in relation to defence and security, Brexit, the economy, immigration and taxation.  The Labour Party is seen as having the policies in the areas of housing, welfare and benefits and the NHS – but only by a small margin. The only policy area in which the Labour party’s policies outstripped the Conservatives’ was poverty and inequality.  Looking at these findings by voting intention, current Conservative voters, are most emphatic about their party’s policies on defence and security and the economy, whereas Labour supporters are most emphatic about Labour’s policies on welfare and benefits.  Although Brexit is seen as the biggest issue, voters are finding it the area where it is most difficult to choose between parties’ policies: only one in three gave an emphatic response at this question, illustrating the high levels of uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process.  Younger voters are more likely to hold strong positive associations with Labour: on almost all areas, those aged 18-34 were more likely than older voters to emphatically support Labour.
  12. 12. 12GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public % Selected Labour overall % Selected Conservatives overall % Selected Labour emphatically % Selected Conservatives emphatically Conservatives are emphatically seen as best for defence and 31% 32% 27% 26% 29% 14% 20% 18% 9% 16% 13% 21% 18% 18% 28% 22% 24% 36% 27% 41%Defence and security Britain leaving the EU The economy Immigration Taxation Education and schools Housing Welfare and benefits The NHS and health Poverty and inequality63% 56% 53% 52% 51% 42% 41% 35% 34% 29% 37% 44% 47% 48% 49% 58% 59% 65% 66% 71% the economy. However, although the majority also think they are best for Brexit, they are less emphatic in this view. For each phrase please select the party with the best policies in this area. Base: 929 adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  13. 13. 13GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Although Brexit is seen as the biggest issue, voters are finding it the area where it is most difficult to choose between parties: only one in three gave an emphatic response. For each phrase please select the party with the best policies in this area. 29% 16% 18% 32% 27% 26% 20% 31% 14% 9% 28% 41% 36% 21% 18% 18% 24% 13% 22% 27% Education and schools Defence and security The economy The NHS and health Welfare and benefits Housing Immigration Poverty and inequality Taxation Britain leaving EU 57% (total) 56% 54% 53% 45% 44% 44% 44% 36% 35% % Selected Labour emphatically % Selected Conservatives emphaticallymphatically Base: 929 adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  14. 14. 14GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Younger voters are more likely to hold strong positive associations with Labour: on almost all areas, those aged 18-34 were more likely than older voters to emphatically support Labour. For each phrase please select the party with the best policies in this area. 39% 37% 36% 34% 30% 27% 26% 20% 14% 10% 36% 33% 28% 35% 27% 22% 21% 19% 16% 12% 21% 17% 18% 23% 23% 12% 8% 8% 12% 4% The NHS and health Education and schools Welfare and benefits Poverty and inequality Housing Immigration The economy Defence and security Taxation Britain leaving EU % Labour emphatically aged 18-34 % Labour emphatically aged 35-54 % Labour emphatically aged 55+ Base: 18-34 (253); 35-54 (332); 55+ (344) adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  15. 15. 15GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Looking at the key issues for Brexit it is clear that, among Leave 11% 11% 7% 11% 26% 26% 9% 20% 29% 48% 37% 52% 20% 28% 20% 35%Defence and security Britain leaving the EU The economy Immigration Defence and security Britain leaving the EU The economy Immigration24% 22% 18% 19% 55% 48% 48% 39% 78% 82% 81% 45% 52% 52% 61% voters, emphatic support is higher for the Conservative Party’s Remain voters 76% % Selected Labour overall % Selected Conservatives overall % Selected Labour emphatically % Selected Conservatives emphatically For each phrase please select the party with the best policies in this area. Leave voters policies. Base: Referendum vote ‘Remain’ (398); Referendum vote ‘Leave’ (428); adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  16. 16. GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 16 VOTING: Key findings  Implicit Reaction Time testing highlights the overclaim made by the general public through regular polling.  Emphatic responses regarding voting intentions are closer to reality than explicit ones. Although four in five (83%) claim that they are absolutely certain to vote in this election, two thirds say this emphatically, a much more realistic figure.  Furthermore, whilst two thirds claim that they have definitely decided who to vote for, only 37% say this emphatically, indicating that both election outcomes are still far from certain.  Those intending to vote Conservative are 7 percentage points more likely to say emphatically that they are certain to vote, and 10 percentage points more likely to say emphatically that they have definitely decided who to vote for.  Those intending to vote Conservative are also 19 percentage points more likely to emphatically say that they always vote in elections.  Leave voters are more likely to have already decided who to vote for, whilst Remain voters are more likely to consider voting tactically. However, more Remain voters say (both explicitly and emphatically) that voting should be compulsory.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, those aged 55+ are significantly more likely to say (both explicitly and emphatically) that they are certain to vote in this election, and registered to do so.
  17. 17. 17GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 66% 30% 62% 54% 44% 52% 37% 24% 9%11% 94% 87% 83%81%81%79% 65% 58% 49% 35% I am registered to vote Every vote counts I am absolutely certain to vote in this election I voted in the 2015 General Election The election result is very important to me I always vote in elections I have definitely decided who to vote for Voting should be compulsory I would consider voting tactically I am a strong supporter of a political party % 'Agree' emphatically % 'Agree' overall Although two thirds claim that they have definitely decided who to vote for, only 37% say this emphatically, indicating Please select the response which best describes how you feel about each statement that election outcomes are still far from certain. Base: 929 adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  18. 18. 18GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public % Explicit ‘Agree’ by those voting Labour % Explicit ‘Agree’ by those voting Conservative % Emphatic ‘Agree’ by those voting Labour % Emphatic ‘Agree’ by those voting Conservative Those intending to vote Conservative are 7pts more likely to say -70% -31% -65% -47% -56% -45% -40% -27% -20% -96% -90% -89% -88% -83% -81% -73% -69% -63% -44% 67% 35% 72% 52% 61% 64% 50% 7% 24% 11% 99% 95% 95% 93% 93% 91% 84% 41% 66% 42%I am a strong supporter of a political party Voting should be compulsory I would consider voting tactically I have definitely decided who to vote for I always vote in elections I voted in the 2015 General Election The election result is very important to me I am absolutely certain to vote in this election Every vote counts I am registered to vote emphatically that they are certain to vote, and 10pts more likely to say emphatically that they have definitely decided who to vote for. Please select the response which best describes how you feel about each statement 11% Base: Intending to vote Conservative (316); Intending to vote Labour (220) adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  19. 19. 19GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public % Selected ‘Agree’ overall % Selected ‘Agree’ overall % Selected ‘Agree’ emphatically % Selected ‘Agree’ emphatically Leave voters are more likely to have already decided who to vote -71% -65% -56% -30% -48% -53% -36% -28% -12% -14% -97% -89% -86% -86% -84% -82% 66% 60% 59% 38% 70% 69% 63% 31% 46% 57% 45% 23% 7% 10% 98% 90% 93% 93% 86% 87% 74% 64% 43% 39% for, whilst Remain voters are more likely to consider voting tactically. Remain Leave I am a strong supporter of a political party I would consider voting tactically Voting should be compulsory I have definitely decided who to vote for I always vote in elections The election result is very important to me Every vote counts I voted in the 2015 General Election I am absolutely certain to vote in this election I am registered to vote Please select the response which best describes how you feel about each statement Base: Referendum vote ‘Remain’ (398); Referendum vote ‘Leave’ (428); adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017 voters voters
  20. 20. 20GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public % Explicit ‘Agree’ by 2015 Labour voters % Explicit ‘Agree’ by 2015 Conservative voters % Emphatic ‘Agree’ by 2015 Labour voters % Emphatic ‘Agree’ by 2015 Conservative voters Those who previously voted Conservative are 10% more likely to -66% -75% -68% -59% -44% -29% -49% -14% -27% -17% -98% -98% -93% -93% -90% -89% -79% -65% -65% -45% 64% 67% 78% 66% 53% 33% 48% 8% 31% 16% 100% 98% 99% 96% 95% 98% 83% 35% 74% 49%I am a strong supporter of a political party Voting should be compulsory I would consider voting tactically I have definitely decided who to vote for Every vote counts The election result is very important to me I always vote in elections I am absolutely certain to vote in this election I am registered to vote I voted in the 2015 General Election emphatically say they will be voting in this election than those who voted Labour, and that they always vote. Please select the response which best describes how you feel about each statement Base: Voted Labour in 2015 (227); Voted Conservative in 2015 (264) adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  21. 21. 21GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 33% 57% 34% 57% 43% 72% 59% 79% 61% 79% 76% 91% I have definitely decided who to vote for I am absolutely certain to vote in this election I have definitely decided who to vote for I am absolutely certain to vote in this election I have definitely decided who to vote for I am absolutely certain to vote in this election % 'Agree' emphatically % 'Agree' overall 18-3435-5455+ Those aged 55+ are more likely to respond emphatically that they have definitely decided who to vote for, and that are absolutely Please select the response which best describes how you feel about each statement certain to. Base: 18-34 (253); 35-54 (332); 55+ (344) adults aged 18-75 online; 15-17th May 2017
  22. 22. GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public © 2016 Ipsos. All rights reserved. Contains Ipsos' Confidential and Proprietary information and may not be disclosed or reproduced without the prior written consent of Ipsos. 22 METHOD
  23. 23. 23GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Method (i) Implicit Reaction Time™ by Ipsos & NEUROHM is the second generation of latency measures. It incorporates a ‘noise’ reduction algorithm to control individual differences in the speed of the neurotransmission as well as for the level of fatigue or length of words: • Participants were exposed to stimulus and then underwent a calibration exercise to account for individual variation such as computer speed, motor skills. • For each exercise, participants were shown set of statements or phrases, and asked to select the answer they most closely associated with the statement. • Looking at both the response and the speed of response allows us to capture both their explicit and implicit response. • We analysed the speed with which they answer the scale to uncover their unconscious conviction. Fieldwork took place between 15-17th May 2017 with 929 adults aged 18-75 online in the UK. Data has been weighted by age, gender, region and work status. Each participant completed IRT modules for all three exercises – the answer options and attributes for which are shown overleaf. The order in which participants viewed attributes within a module was randomised, and the answer options were rotated from Left to Right for different halves of the sample. The three IRT modules were completed as part of a wider online survey collecting further information about voting intention and the General Election.
  24. 24. 24GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public Method (ii) LEADERS Answer options: Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn CAPABLE LEADER CLEAR VISION FOR BRITAIN GENUINE GOOD IN A CRISIS GOOD NEGOTIATOR HONEST IN TOUCH WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE PATRIOTIC SOUND JUDGEMENT UNDERSTANDS BRITAIN’S PROBLEMS PARTY POLICIES Answer options: The Labour Party or the Conservative Party BRITAIN LEAVING THE EU DEFENCE AND SECURITY EDUCATION AND SCHOOLS HOUSING IMMIGRATION POVERTY AND INEQUALITY TAXATION THE ECONOMY THE NHS AND HEALTH WELFARE AND BENEFITS VOTING Answer options: Agree or Disagree EVERY VOTE COUNTS I ALWAYS VOTE IN ELECTIONS I AM A STRONG SUPPORTER OF A POLITICAL PARTY I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN TO VOTE IN THIS ELECTION I AM REGISTERED TO VOTE I HAVE DEFINITELY DECIDED WHO TO VOTE FOR I VOTED IN THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION I WOULD CONSIDER VOTING TACTICALLY THE ELECTION RESULT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME VOTING SHOULD BE COMPULSORY
  25. 25. www.ipsos-mori.com/ GE2017 IRT Study | June 2017 | v1 | Public 25 Head of Political Research Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute gideon.skinner@ipsos.com 0207 347 3000 For further information, please contact: Gideon Skinner Senior Research Executive Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute marzieh.talebi@ipsos.com 0207 347 3000 Marzieh Talebi Associate Director Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute josh.keith@ipsos.com 0207 347 3000 Josh Keith

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