The quality of our life is a product of the choices we make.
The popular belief is that the more choices we have, the better for us. However, there are times when this is not so. A study conducted by Iyengar, Jiang, and Huberman found that employee participation rates in the 401(k) plans (retirement plans in the US) are higher in plans with fewer options. For every 10 funds added to the plan, employee participation rates dropped by 1.5% to 2%. When faced with more choices, many did not engage. This means forgone investment opportunities just because they got overwhelmed by the selection. (Click link to read the study.)
In Behavioral Economics, we call this Choice Overload. It is a cognitive impairment in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options.
The presidential elections in the Philippines subjects us to this choice overload. Right now, we have a total of 10 presidential candidates to choose from:
- Abella , Ernesto “Ernie”
- De Guzman Leodegario “Ka Leody”
- Domagoso , Francisco “Isko”
- Gonzales, Norberto
- Lacson , Panfilo “Ping”, Sr.
- Mangondato , Faisal
- Marcos, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Jr.
- Montemayor, Jose Jr.
- Pacquiao, Emmanuel “Manny Sr.
- Robredo, Maria Leonor “Leni
Comelec debates invite all 10 of them and give the same amount of airtime to answer questions. Right now, it seems like “debate” is a misnomer for this important exercise because of the sheer number of participants and the fact that the front runner in surveys refuses to attend.
The Filipino voter faces many challenges in making the right decision. On top of the choice overload on the number of candidates, there’s social media noise that he is constantly exposed to, which, unfortunately, has become his source of information.
The role of traditional media has been significantly decimated due to the closure of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest television network. Did you hear the remark of Harry Roque to Ai-ai de las Alas in the Uniteam rally last Saturday? He said, “Ate Ai, hindi ka nagkamali ng sinamahang grupo. Hindi mawawala ang iyong prangkisa.” (link)
Traditional media, for all its shortcomings, still has an advantage in times like election campaigns because the players still filter the content they publish, unlike social media where every “Troll, Dick, and Harry” can just post anything and spread it with the use of boosting and other online tricks. The revisionism that has been going on for so many years, coupled with our education system’s failure to teach our students what really happened during the dark ages of the Marcos regime, plus the incumbent’s weaponization of the internet to advance populist beliefs passing the blame to the rich/elite (never mind how this is defined – i.e. limited to a certain color, those who oppose them), have all brought us to where we are now.
There is a need to help the Filipino voter summon his Makatwirang Mak side in order to make a rational decision on May 9, 2022. What is he to do with all the confusion?
Process of Elimination
On Easter Sunday, the gentlemen lagging behind in surveys held a press conference to, according to them, remind the voters that hey, we’re still here. Unfortunately for them but fortunately for us, their ungentlemanly performance at the Manila Pen accelerated their fate of being considered nuisance candidates.
It has now come down to two contenders – Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Leni Robredo.
Now that we’ve eliminated the eight other candidates, it is easier to make a choice. Let’s borrow from the actor of Heneral Luna, John Arcilla, and answer the following questions:
(Click link to watch full speech.)
- Corrupt o Tapat?
- Kurakot o Lingkod?
- Umiiwas o Humaharap?
- Sumusugod o Umaatras?
- Masipag o Tamad?
- Trapo o Tropa?
Simple lang, hindi ba? Mamamayang Pilipino, pumili ka!
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This article is also published in Philstar.