The Iowa Caucuses – Do They Matter?

Weekly Grooves is the podcast where we explore topical issues through the lens of behavioral science. Tim Houlihan and Kurt Nelson, PhD have worked in the world of behavioral interventions for more than 20 years and we each run our own consultancies. In Weekly Grooves, we view the headlines through the lenses of behavioral science.

The Iowa caucuses are on February 3, 2020, and the media is abuzz with who will win Iowa and take the “front runner lead” for the Democrats. So while we’re interested in the politics of this, we’re actually more interested in the psychology of being the “front runner” and what that entails.

There are a number of behavioral factors that make the front-runner a great position:  The Bandwagon Effect – people want to be part of the winning team. The Availability Bias where the front runner gets more media exposure, making them more immediate in memory. The Mere Exposure Effect is how we tend to develop a preference for things merely because we are familiar with them. The Hot Hand Fallacy could also positively impact the person who wins – or even who beats expectations.  But being the front runner does not always lead to victory. In this episode, we’ll discuss how these play a role in our behaviors.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves

Kurt Nelson, PhD: @whatmotivates

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan