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Theories of political behavior, as an aspect of political science, attempt to quantify and explain

the influences that define a person's political views, ideology, and levels of political
participation. Theorists who have had an influence on this field include Karl Deutsch and
Theodor Adorno.


1 Long-term influences on political orientation

2 Short-term influences on political orientation
3 The influence of social groups on political outcomes
4 References
5 See also

[edit] Long-term influences on political orientation

There are three main sources of influence that shape political orientation which creates long-term
effects. Generally, the primary influence originates from family. As stated previously, children
will often adopt their parents' ideological values. Some theorists have argued that family tends to
be the strongest, most influential force which exists over the lifetime; one essay has credited the
majority of the student activism of the 1930s to the influence of parents.[1]
Secondly, teachers and other educational authority figures have a significant impact on political
orientation. From as early as age 4 up until 18, children spend about 25% of their time involved
in educational processes.[citation needed] Post-secondary education significantly raises the impact of
political awareness and orientation; an October 2004 study of 1,202 college undergraduates
across the United States showed that 87% of college students were registered to vote, compared
to a national average of 64% of American adults. [2] A study at Santa Clara University also
showed that 84% of students there were registered to vote. [2] Also consider that childhood and
adolescent stages of personal growth have the highest level of impressionability.
Thirdly, peers also affect political orientation. Friends often, but not necessarily, have the
advantage of being part of the same generation, which collectively develops a unique set of
societal issues; Eric L. Bey has argued that "socialisation is the process through which
individuals acquire knowledge, habits, and value orientations that will be useful in the future." [3]
The ability to relate on this common level is where the means to shape ideological growth.

[edit] Short-term influences on political orientation

Short-term factors also affect voting behavior; the media and the impact of individual election
issues are among these factors. These factors differ from the long-term factors as they are often
short-lived. However, they can be just as crucial in modifying political orientation. The ways in

which these two sources are interpreted often relies on the individuals specific political ideology
formed by the long-term factors.
Most political scientists agree that the mass media have a profound impact on voting behavior.
One author asserts that "few would argue with the notion that the institutions of the mass media
are important to contemporary politics ... in the transition to liberal democratic politics in the
Soviet Union and Eastern Europe the media was a key battleground."
Second, there are election issues. These include campaign issues, debates and commercials.
Election years and political campaigns can shift certain political behaviors based on the
candidates involved, which have different degrees of effectiveness in influencing voters.

[edit] The influence of social groups on political outcomes

Recently, some political scientists have been interested in many studies which aimed to analyze
the relation between the behavior of social groups and the political outcomes. Some of the social
groups included in their studies have been age demographics, gender, and ethnic groups.
For example, in U.S. politics, the effect of ethnic groups and gender has a great influence on the
political outcomes.
Latin Americans have a profound social impact on the political outcome of their vote and are
emerging as a strong up-and-coming political force. The most noticeable increase in Latin
American voting was in the 2000 presidential election, although the votes did not share a socially
common political view at that time. In the 2006 election, the Latin American vote aided
tremendously in the election of Florida Senator Mel Martinez, although in the 2004 presidential
election, about 44% of Latin Americans voted for Republican President George W. Bush. Latin
Americans have been seen to be showing an increasing trend in the issues on which they vote
for, causing them to become more united when faced with political views. Currently illegal
immigration has been claiming most attention and Latin Americans, although not completely
unanimous, are concerned with the education, employment and deportation of illegal immigrants
in the United States.
Over seven decades ago, women earned the right to vote and since then they have been making a
difference in the outcomes of political election. Given that the right to be politically active has
granted them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and influence in current affairs, they are
now considered one of the main components in the country's decision-making in both politics
and economy. According to The American Political Science Association, over the past 2004
presidential election, the women's vote may have well decided the outcome of the race. Susan
Carroll, the author of Women Voters and the Gender Gap, states that the increase of women
influence on political behaviors is due to four main categories: women outnumber men among
voters; significant efforts are underway to increase registration and turnout among women; a
gender gap is evident in the 2004 election as it has been in every presidential election since 1980;
and women constitute a disproportionately large share of the undecided voters who will make
their decision late in the campaign.

[edit] References
1. ^ Activist Impulses: Campus Radicalism in the 1930s (Cohen)
2. ^ a b Ethics and Political Behavior: A Portrait of the Voting Decisions of Santa Clara
3. ^ Dey, Eric L., Undergraduate Political Attitudes: Peer Influence in Changing Social
Contexts, Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 68, 1997

[edit] See also

Political parties

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Categories: Behavior | Theories | Political culture | Political science theories