Elevating Norm Over Substance: Self-Monitoring as a Predictor of Decision Criteria and Decision Time among Independent Voters


  • This study was funded by a research grant to the first author from the Center for the Study of Political Psychology. The authors would like to thank Christopher Federico, Joanne Miller, the editor, and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Erik J. Girvan, University of Minnesota, Psychology Department, N218 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0344 [email: girva004@umn.edu[.


The 2008 U.S. presidential election was the first race since 1928 in which there was no executive incumbent running. We used this opportunity to test the hypothesis that self-monitoring would predict how and when voters, particularly independents who may be less likely to use political party affiliation as their primary criteria, decide which candidate to support. Results showed that high self-monitors rated information that was indicative of social consensus as more important to their decisions than did low self-monitors, especially if the information source reflected the opinion of an identifiable individual, not simply aggregate data. As predicted, high self-monitors also took longer to decide which candidate to support than did low-self monitors. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.