Politics And The Brain - 2018 Ontario provincial election

Voting is one of the most important processes we can participate in as citizens of a well-functioning society. But, before checking that box on the ballot, we have a responsibility to inform ourselves before making a decision. Information on the candidates themselves are plentiful, but we make decisions on more than just facts - emotion and bias also play important roles in our decision-making process.

At Brainsights, we believe that understanding our own biases and how they map to both the candidates and the issues is an important part of making an informed voting decision.


To better understand this, Brainsights deployed its audience brain measurement platform to measure the subconscious brain activity of 30 Ontarians as they watched the final political debate live. These people were selected so as to represent a wide range of political views, ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Using electroencephalography (EEG) – devices that use small electrodes to measure brain waves – Brainsights is able to pick up on the tiny signals in the brain which drive our decision-making. Specifically, Brainsights’ technology measures audience Attention, emotional Connection and Encoding to memory – quite literally, what we attune to, what we identify or bond with, and what we find value enough to store away in our memory. Together, these measures combine for a read on the engagement or persuasiveness of specific stimuli.

The technology platform syncs this brain data at the millisecond level to the visual stimuli each viewer is processing. The Brainsights team coded every second of the debate, tagging each moment with which candidate was on screen, who was speaking, and about what topics. Looking at all this data, we pulled key facts to highlight the unconscious biases going into the Ontario Election.

The Results:

To ensure that the results were not only available to the public, but reached as many people as possible, we created infographics and placed them in the windows of our office, facing King Street at the intersection of King and Peter in downtown Toronto.

Feel free to drop by to check them out and you're more than welcome to photograph them to share around. Or, if it's easier, you can check out the images below.

Other Political Reading:

If you enjoyed this, check out our coverage of the 2014 Ontario Provincial Debate, the final US Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and the interactive tool we created following that debate.