Sunday, July 5, 2015

The psychology of 'no' in Vancouver (if you live in Lake Worth does anything sound familiar?)

Vancouver, Canada recently had a referendum on fixing the city's infrastructure. The city's administration had taken a "go big or go home" approach to the problem of crumbling streets and the terrible transit situation. They wanted to build new roads, add more bus lines, and build an underground rail system. This was all going to take a lot of money. The referendum failed.

In the lead-up to the vote was an article in the National Post titled, "The psychology of ‘no': Vancouver transit vote is case study in why it’s so hard to do what makes us happy". For those of you who remember the recent failed bond vote in Lake Worth you will find this excerpt below very interesting:
     We are more attracted to stories than spreadsheets [emphasis added] — the simpler and more mythical, the more compelling. We crave identifiable heroes and villains. The “No” campaign has supplied that story, painting local transit authority executives as a corrupt, wasteful band of thieves.
     It doesn’t matter that their assertions are inaccurate. (Translink is arguably one of the most efficient and reliable big-city transit agencies in North America.) It doesn’t matter that the plebiscite is not actually about Translink, or that the results will affect the public much more than Translink leaders. The emotionally charged story feels truer than numbers.
     So for many voters, the plebiscite is reduced to an opportunity to express anger about their commute, or engage in a symbolic struggle against a cartoon-like enemy. But this will actually harm voters’ own interests in the long run.
     How can we overcome such barriers in order to get this — and other urban decisions — right?
Here is video from YouTube with a humorous take on referendum (a definite 'Yes' voter):