TEXT SIZE A A A

Findings Banner

Friday, January 4, 2013

Partied out

 

Ideology and the size of US state government

Andrew Pickering & James Rockey
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper theorizes that the impact of ideology on the size of US state governments increases with state income. This idea is tested using state-level ideology data derived from the voting behavior of state congressional representatives. Empirically the interaction of ideology and mean income is a key determinant of state government size. At 1960s levels of income the impact of ideology is negligible. At 1997 levels of income a one standard-deviation move towards the left of the ideology spectrum increases state government size by about half a standard deviation. Estimated income elasticities differentiated by state and time are found to be increasing with ideology and diminishing with income, as predicted by the theory.

----------------------

Polarized Networks: The Organizational Affiliations of National Party Convention Delegates

Michael Heaney et al.
American Behavioral Scientist, December 2012, Pages 1654-1676

Abstract:
Previous research has documented that the institutional behaviors (e.g., lobbying, campaign contributions) of political organizations reflect the polarization of these organizations along party lines. However, little is known about how these groups are connected at the level of individual party activists. Using data from a survey of 738 delegates at the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions, we use network regression analysis to demonstrate that co-membership networks of national party convention delegates are highly polarized by party, even after controlling for homophily due to ideology, sex/gender, race/ethnicity, age, educational attainment, income, and religious participation. Among delegates belonging to the same organization, only 1.78% of these co-memberships between delegates crossed party lines, and only 2.74% of the ties between organizations sharing common delegates were bipartisan in nature. We argue that segregation of organizational ties on the basis of party adds to the difficulty of finding common political ground between the parties.

----------------------

False Memories of Fabricated Political Events

Steven Frenda et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2013, Pages 280-286

Abstract:
In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions.

----------------------

Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

Dan Kahan
Yale Working Paper, November 2012

Abstract:
Social psychologists have identified various plausible sources of ideological polarization over climate change, gun violence, national security, and like societal risks. This paper describes a study of three of them: the predominance of heuristic-driven information processing by members of the public; ideologically motivated cognition; and personality-trait correlates of political conservativism. The results of the study suggest reason to doubt two common surmises about how these dynamics interact. First, the study presents both observational and experimental data inconsistent with the hypothesis that political conservatism is distinctively associated with closed-mindedness: conservatives did no better or worse than liberals on an objective measure of cognitive reflection; and more importantly, both demonstrated the same unconscious tendency to fit assessments of empirical evidence to their ideological predispositions. Second, the study suggests that this form of bias is not a consequence of overreliance on heuristic or intuitive forms of reasoning; on the contrary, subjects who scored highest in cognitive reflection were the most likely to display ideologically motivated cognition. These findings corroborated the hypotheses of a third theory, which identifies motivated cognition as a form of information processing that rationally promotes individuals' interests in forming and maintaining beliefs that signify their loyalty to important affinity groups. The paper discusses the normative significance of these findings, including the need to develop science communication strategies that shield policy-relevant facts from the influences that turn them into divisive symbols of identity.

----------------------

The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum

Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek & Jonathan Haidt
PLoS ONE, December 2012

Abstract:
We investigated the moral stereotypes political liberals and conservatives have of themselves and each other. In reality, liberals endorse the individual-focused moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives do, and conservatives endorse the group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity more than liberals do. 2,212 U.S. participants filled out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire with their own answers, or as a typical liberal or conservative would answer. Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about "typical" liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup's morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.

----------------------

Does Biology Justify Ideology? The Politics of Genetic Attribution

Elizabeth Suhay & Toby Epstein Jayaratne
Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom suggests that political conservatives are more likely than liberals to endorse genetic explanations for many human characteristics and behaviors. Whether and to what extent this is true has received surprisingly limited systematic attention. We examine evidence from a large U.S. public opinion survey that measured the extent to which respondents believed genetic explanations account for a variety of differences among individuals as well as groups in society. We find that conservatives were indeed more likely than liberals to endorse genetic explanations for perceived race and class differences in characteristics often associated with socioeconomic inequality (intelligence, math skills, drive, and violence). Different ideological divisions emerged, however, with respect to respondents' explanations for sexual orientation. Here, liberals were more likely than conservatives to say that sexual orientation is due to genes and less likely to say that it is due to choice or the environment. These patterns suggest that conservative and liberal ideologues will tend to endorse genetic explanations where their policy positions are bolstered by "naturalizing" human differences. That said, debates over genetic influence may be more politicized with respect to race, class, and sexual orientation than population differences generally: We find that left/right political ideology was not significantly associated with genetic (or other) attributions for individual differences in intelligence, math skills, drive, or violence. We conclude that conceptions of the proper role of government are closely intertwined with assumptions about the causes of human difference, but that this relationship is a complex one.

----------------------

The Polarized American: Views on Humanity and the Sources of Hyper-Partisanship

Karl Kaltenthaler & William Miller
American Behavioral Scientist, December 2012, Pages 1718-1734

Abstract:
In recent years, many possible explanations have been offered for why America has become a more polarized country. In this article, we introduce a new variable to the discussion. Rather than focusing on specific policy beliefs or political attitudes, we instead suggest that social trust can be an important explanatory factor in predicting which Americans are most likely to be polarized. Through the analysis of ANES data, we find that individuals who are strong trusters of others are more likely to identify as Strong Democrats while those less likely to do so are more likely to self-identify as Strong Republicans. The article concludes by looking at how considering social trust as a predictor of polarization impacts our understanding of American politics.

----------------------

The behavioral immune system and social conservatism: A meta-analysis

John Terrizzi, Natalie Shook & Michael McDaniel
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The behavioral immune system (BIS) is a cluster of psychological mechanisms (e.g., disgust) that have evolved to promote disease-avoidance (Schaller M. (2006). Parasites, behavioral defenses, and the social psychological mechanisms through which cultures are evoked. Psychological Inquiry, 17, 96-101). Recent evidence suggests that the BIS may promote avoidance of outgroup members, an historical source of contamination, by evoking social conservatism (Terrizzi JA Jr, Shook NJ, & Ventis WL. (2010). Disgust: A predictor of social conservatism and prejudicial attitudes toward homosexuals. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 587-592; Terrizzi J, Shook N, Ventis L. (2012). Religious conservatism: An evolutionarily evoked disease-avoidance strategy. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 2, 105-120.). That is, the BIS mechanisms may encourage the endorsement of socially conservative beliefs, which promote social exclusivity, tradition, and negativity toward outgroups. The current study provides a systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 studies to evaluate the hypothesis that the BIS is predictive of social conservatism. The results indicate that behavioral immune strength, as indicated by fear of contamination and disgust sensitivity, is positively related to social conservatism (i.e., right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, religious fundamentalism, ethnocentrism, collectivism, and political conservatism). These findings provide initial evidence that socially conservative values may function as evolutionarily evoked disease-avoidance strategies.

----------------------

Cadet Perceptions of Military and Civilian Ideology: A Research Note

Rachel Milstein Sondheimer, Kevin Toner & Isaiah Wilson
Armed Forces & Society, January 2013, Pages 124-134

Abstract:
Evidence of an actual or perceived gap in ideological beliefs between civilian and military communities informs current debates on the military and its relationship to broader society. The authors examine one cohort of the military and its members' perception of their own ideology in relation to their civilian counterparts using a 2009 survey of cadets at the United States Military Academy. The authors ascertain cadet perceptions of (1) cadet ideological leanings on individual and aggregate levels, (2) the ideological leanings of the civilian population, and (3) the civilian population's assessment of the military's ideological leanings. The authors attempt to discern whether or not this military subpopulation perceives itself as different from the rest of society. The authors find that while members of the Army's future officer corps perceive themselves as more conservative than their civilian peers and society writ large, as a group they hold rather moderate political views.

----------------------

The Rise of Uncivil Agreement: Issue Versus Behavioral Polarization in the American Electorate

Lilliana Mason
American Behavioral Scientist, January 2013, Pages 140-159

Abstract:
The debate over whether polarization is occurring in the mass public has been limited by a lack of definition and theory. This article contributes to both, arguing that polarization can be characterized as either behavioral polarization or issue position polarization, but that the two are not synonymous. One reason for the difference between the two types of polarization is that the partisan-ideological sorting that has occurred over the past few decades has contributed to behavioral polarization, but not as strongly to issue position polarization. The consequence of this is a new electorate that generally agrees on most issues but is nevertheless increasingly biased, active, and angry. An examination of American National Election Studies data from 1972 to 2004 finds strong support for these hypotheses.

----------------------

Beyond the left-right cleavage: Exploring American political choice space

Melvin Hinich et al.
Journal of Theoretical Politics, January 2013, Pages 75-104

Abstract:
Following spatial choice theory and MAP methodology, we employ the data drawn from recent nationwide public opinion surveys to probe the latent political choice space in American political competition. Our analyses demonstrate that, in addition to the traditional left-right ideology continuum, there is a second distinct dimension in American political choice space. More importantly, the results from our regression analyses suggest that the second dimension seems to be driven by a cleavage among different reform prospects, ranging from low-politics reformism, to politics-as-usual approach, to high-politics style of change.

----------------------

Fair and Balanced News or a Difference of Opinion? Why Opinion Shows Matter for Media Effects

Glen Smith & Kathleen Searles
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we examine both the content and effects of opinion shows during the 2008 presidential election. First, a content analysis shows that opinion shows devote most of their attention to attacking the opposition candidate, rather than praising the like-minded candidate. Second, analyses of panel data show that exposure to opinion shows made viewers less (more) favorable toward the opposition (like-minded) candidate. Finally, we use overtime analyses to show that coverage of the opposition candidate affects attitudes toward both candidates, whereas coverage of the like-minded candidate has negligible effects on attitudes toward either candidate.

----------------------

Polarizing Patriots: Divergent Responses to Patriotic Imagery in News Coverage of Terrorism

Christopher Gelpi, Laura Roselle & Brooke Barnett
American Behavioral Scientist, January 2013, Pages 8-45

Abstract:
We demonstrate that the use of patriotic imagery in news reporting may increase rather than decrease public polarization regarding foreign policy issues. Specifically, we examine the impact of patriotic imagery in the context of an online news story about terrorism on individuals' attitudes toward civil liberties in the "war on terror" and spillover effects on support for the war in Afghanistan. We expect that images of the American flag will be associated with differing clusters of values depending on the level of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) that an individual's personality exhibits. Specifically, we expect that flag imagery will decrease support for civil liberties and increase support for the war in Afghanistan among individuals who are high in RWA. But we expect flag exposure to have the opposite effect among those who are low in RWA. Finally, we expect patriotic imagery cues will influence only individuals who are not a part of the terrorism "issue public." We test these hypotheses with an experiment that presents participants with a single news story on the Times Square bomber. The experiment frames the news story as coming from Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC and varies the presence or absence of patriotic flag imagery in the pictures accompanying the news story. The results provide strong support for our expectations regarding the contingent impact of patriotic imagery as well as our expectations regarding the spillover effects of news coverage on terrorism on attitudes toward Afghanistan.

----------------------

Selective Exposure in the Age of Social Media: Endorsements Trump Partisan Source Affiliation When Selecting News Online

Solomon Messing & Sean Westwood
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much of the literature on polarization and selective exposure presumes that the internet exacerbates the fragmentation of the media and the citizenry. Yet this ignores how the widespread use of social media changes news consumption. Social media provide readers a choice of stories from different sources that come recommended from politically heterogeneous individuals, in a context that emphasizes social value over partisan affiliation. Building on existing models of news selectivity to emphasize information utility, we hypothesize that social media's distinctive feature, social endorsements, trigger several decision heuristics that suggest utility. In two experiments, we demonstrate that stronger social endorsements increase the probability that people select content and that their presence reduces partisan selective exposure to levels indistinguishable from chance.

----------------------

Forget the Good of the Game: Political Incivility and Lack of Compromise as a Second Layer of Party Polarization

Michael Wolf, Cherie Strachan & Daniel Shea
American Behavioral Scientist, December 2012, Pages 1677-1695

Abstract:
The growing literature on American party polarization has focused on growing differences in partisan vote outcomes, political values, and policy position. We argue that a second layer of party polarization has developed that goes far beyond simply issue and ideological differences. A growing unwillingness to want politicians to compromise with the other side and a determination to blame growing political incivility solely on the other party characterizes this additional division. This second layer is important to gauge because an electorate with a significant portion of voters deeply separated on policy questions but open to compromise is appreciably different from an electorate deeply divided on policy and unwilling to budge based on policy and emotion. Our findings show that a solid percentage of the electorate holds strong partisan preferences and wants their party leaders to stand firm on principle rather than compromise with the other side. Furthermore, this strong partisan mood is not simply driven by the particular conditions of the 2010 midterm election, such as the Tea Party or in particular regions. Rather, this stark divisive partisan atmosphere existed generally and was not concentrated in electorally competitive areas.

----------------------

The influence of socio-economic characteristics on the political attitudes of American Indians

Jeonghun Min & Daniel Savage
Social Science Journal, December 2012, Pages 494-502

Abstract:
We examine the political attitudes of American Indians in eastern Oklahoma where they make up almost 20% of the population. We argue that American Indians in the region play the same role that other minorities in the southern states - notably blacks and Hispanics - do in resisting the region's realignment from the Democratic to the Republican Party. American Indians in the region are populists in that they are economically liberal and religiously conservative. The results of our analysis suggest that the socio-economic characteristics of American Indians play a greater role in explaining American Indians' political attitudes than their ethnic identification.

----------------------

The Dynamic Lives and Static Institutions of the "Two Armies": Data from the Survey of Active Duty Personnel

Daniel Burland & Jennifer Hickes Lundquist
Armed Forces & Society, January 2013, Pages 78-101

Abstract:
The U.S. Army consists of two distinct functional components: soldiers serving in combat roles, on the one hand, and those who serve in support positions, on the other. Do these two functionally distinct segments differ culturally as well? Empirical researchers utilizing qualitative methods have supported a "Two Armies" concept. This article examines the phenomenon quantitatively by using a nationally representative sample of the active duty population. The authors find that there is a statistically significant difference between support and combat soldiers that holds even after taking into account differing demography. Interestingly, this is true mainly of White soldiers, and the authors find that it is driven by premilitary, civilian socialization. This dataset also clearly shows that, for most soldiers, the split between the two segments of the Army tends to diminish over time, with combat and support soldiers sharing more similar motivations with one another later in their terms of service.

----------------------

The Electoral Origins of Polarized Politics: Evidence From the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study

Gary Jacobson
American Behavioral Scientist, December 2012, Pages 1612-1630

Abstract:
Data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study are examined to determine the extent to which partisan polarization is a popular as well as an elite phenomenon. The evidence indicates that ordinary Americans as well as political elites divide consistently along party lines over a broad range of issues and legislative preferences. Partisan ideological divisions are not confined to the political class; they extend downward into the citizenry to the degree that people are actively involved in politics. The coincidence of partisan differences across issues results in a bimodal distribution of aggregate preferences among voters, showing that partisan sorting can by itself polarize the electorate even if sorted partisans do not adopt extreme positions on individual issues. The distribution of partisan preferences is even more sharply bimodal and polarized when the electoral constituencies of the congressional parties are compared, so the electoral process sustains elite polarization. Primary electoral constituencies tend to be even more extreme, particularly on the Republican side, deterring departures from party orthodoxy and thus movement toward the median voter.

----------------------

The Implications of Fictional Media for Political Beliefs

Kenneth Mulligan & Philip Habel
American Politics Research, January 2013, Pages 122-146

Abstract:
Most research on media effects in political science deals with the news media or political campaigns. Although some recent work looks at the effects of soft news on beliefs and opinions, little attention has been paid to the potential consequences of media that are fictional. Although viewers typically watch fiction for entertainment, the themes, plots, and dialogue may nevertheless influence their thoughts about politics. This article examines the effects of fiction on political beliefs. We do this in the context of an experimental design, where subjects in the treatment group watched the outlandish movie, Wag the Dog. The results show that those who watched the film were more likely to believe in a far-fetched conspiracy, namely that the U.S. government has and will fabricate a war for political gain. The findings stretch the boundaries of fictional influence by focusing on extreme, conspiratorial beliefs. We suggest that political science and communications scholars should focus greater attention on the implications of fiction for beliefs and attitudes, as the consequences can be perverse.

----------------------

The Rise of Party/Leader Identification in Western Europe

Diego Garzia
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates the attitudinal drivers of partisanship in Western Europe, focusing in particular on the role exerted by voters' evaluation of party leaders. The cross-sectional analysis is performed on pooled national election study data from three established parliamentary democracies (Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands). Results highlight the growing statistical association between leader evaluations and voters' feelings of partisan attachment throughout the last three decades. Further analyses of selected panel data provide evidence for a causal interpretation in which voters' evaluation of party leaders plays a crucial role in shaping their feelings of attachment to parties.

----------------------

Who Fits the Left-Right Divide? Partisan Polarization in the American Electorate

Edward Carmines, Michael Ensley & Michael Wagner
American Behavioral Scientist, December 2012, Pages 1631-1653

Abstract:
How has the American public responded to elite partisan polarization? Using panel data from both the Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project and the American National Election Studies, we explore the partisan consequences of the discrepancy between the one-dimensional structure of elite policy preferences and the two-dimensional structure of citizens' policy preferences. We find that those citizens with preferences that are consistently liberal or consistently conservative across both economic and social issues have responded to elite polarization with mass polarization. However, we also find that the sizable number of citizens who hold preferences on economic and social issues that do not perfectly match the menu of options provided by elite Republicans and Democrats have not responded to elite polarization; indeed, these citizens are more likely to shift their partisan allegiance in the short-term and less likely to strengthen their party identification in the long term.

----------------------

Cameron and Liberal Conservatism: Attitudes within the Parliamentary Conservative Party and Conservative Ministers

Timothy Heppell
British Journal of Politics & International Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article identifies the ideological composition of the parliamentary Conservative party (PCP) in order to determine the location and numeric strength of the critics of Cameron. By constructing a data set of attitudes across two ideological divides-the social, sexual and morality divide and the European divide - the article identifies the following. First, despite Cameron's social liberal emphasis both the PCP and his ministerial team is predominantly Thatcherite - i.e. socially conservative. Second, despite numerically having a Eurosceptic PCP and ministerial team, with Europhilia now an inconsequential rump, Cameron faces a minority 'hard' Eurosceptic faction of rebels who oppose his 'soft' Euroscepticism. Third, the influx of new parliamentarians elected in 2010 may increase social liberal strength, but they are overwhelmingly Eurosceptic, with a significant tranche of hard Eurosceptics amongst them. Finally, through a process of ideological mapping of these two ideological divides the research identifies a core of 50 socially conservative and hard Eurosceptics who are the critics of Cameron.

----------------------

The Big Five Personality Factors and Mass Politics

Christopher Cooper, Lauren Golden & Alan Socha
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we argue that a stable set of characteristics - personality - can help explain mass political opinions and behavior. By analyzing data collected from over 750 people, we examine the influence of the Five-Factor Model of personality on ideology, partisanship, political efficacy, and two forms of political participation. After controlling for a host of demographic factors, we find that openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion help explain public opinion and political behavior. Neuroticism is the only factor that does not influence political life. We conclude by comparing these results to other findings in the field and suggest directions for future research.

----------------------

My Group's Fate Is My Fate: Identity-Fused Americans and Spaniards Link Personal Life Quality to Outcome of 2008 Elections

Michael Buhrmester et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, November/December 2012, Pages 527-533

Abstract:
People differ in their reactions to the outcomes of their group. Whereas some may revel in victory and mourn in defeat, others may internalize victory but distance themselves from defeat. Here, we sought to relate these divergent reactions to two forms of alignment with groups - identity fusion and group identification. Investigations of the 2008 elections in the United States and Spain revealed that people who were "fused" with their political party internalized both victory and defeat, but highly identified persons internalized only victory. We discuss how these findings bear on the conceptual distinctions between identity fusion and group identification.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM