Findings

Voting Public

Kevin Lewis

March 25, 2010

Perceived health from biological motion predicts voting behaviour

Robin Kramer, Isabel Arend & Robert Ward
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, April 2010, Pages 625-632

Abstract:
Body motion signals socially relevant traits like the sex, age, and even the genetic quality of actors and may therefore facilitate various social judgements. By examining ratings and voting decisions based solely on body motion of political candidates, we considered how the candidates' motion affected people's judgements and voting behaviour. In two experiments, participants viewed stick figure motion displays made from videos of politicians in public debate. Participants rated the motion displays for a variety of social traits and then indicated their vote preference. In both experiments, perceived physical health was the single best predictor of vote choice, and no two-factor model produced significant improvement. Notably, although attractiveness and leadership correlated with voting behaviour, neither provided additional explanatory power to a single-factor model of health alone. Our results demonstrate for the first time that motion can produce systematic vote preferences.

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Deus Ex Machina: The Influence of Polling Place on Voting Behavior

Abraham Rutchick
Political Psychology, April 2010, Pages 209-225

Abstract:
Voting is perceived as free and rational. Citizens make whatever choices they wish, shielded from external influences by the privacy of the voting booth. The current paper, however, suggests that a subtle source of influence - polling places themselves - can impact voting behavior. In two elections, people voting in churches were more likely to support a conservative candidate and a ban on same-sex marriage, but not the restriction of eminent domain. A field experiment found that people completing questionnaires in a chapel awarded less money (relative to people in a secular building) to insurance claimants seeking compensation for abortion pills, but not to worker's compensation claimants. A laboratory experiment found that people subliminally exposed to ecclesiastical images awarded less money (relative to people exposed to control images) to abortion pill claimants, but not to worker's compensation claimants. Exposure to ecclesiastical images affected only Christians; non-Christians' awards were unaffected by the prime. These findings show that polling locations can exert a powerful and precise influence on political attitudes and decision making.

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Personality and politics: The role of the HEXACO model of personality in predicting ideology and voting

Antonio Chirumbolo & Luigi Leone
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of the HEXACO model of personality structure in predicting political ideology and voting. Five-hundred and seventeen participants provided responses for measures of the HEXACO and the Five Factor Models, ideological orientation, and past voting. Results showed that Conscientiousness was linked to voting for right-wing parties, whereas Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness and Openness were related to voting for left-wing parties. Ideological orientation mediated the relationship between personality traits and voting. Hierarchical tests indicated that the HEXACO outperformed the Five Factor Model in predicting ideological orientation.

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The Appeal of Second Bananas: The Impact of Vice Presidential Candidates on Presidential Vote Choice, Yesterday and Today

Stacy Ulbig
American Politics Research, March 2010, Pages 330-355

Abstract:
To what extent do vice presidential candidates affect individual-level vote choice for president? The accepted wisdom is that vice presidential candidates are of minor importance to most voters. Yet much energy was spent discussing the potential impact of Biden and Palin as vice presidential candidates. Here, the impact that attitudes toward Palin and Biden had on vote choice in the 2008 election are compared with the role of vice presidential candidates historically. Although feelings about vice presidential candidates typically play little role in vote choice, there are exceptions. When vice presidential candidates draw media attention, feelings about them become much more important to vote choice. Whereas Biden represents the general rule of vice presidents garnering little media attention and having relatively little impact on vote choice, Palin's candidacy drew an abnormally high level of media interest, and feelings about her exerted a stronger impact on vote choice, especially among Independent voters.

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Predicting Election Outcomes from Positive and Negative Trait Assessments of Candidate Images

Kyle Mattes, Michael Spezio, Hackjin Kim, Alexander Todorov, Ralph Adolphs &
Michael Alvarez
Political Psychology, February 2010, Pages 41-58

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom, and a growing body of behavioral research, suggests that the nonverbal image of a candidate influences voter decision making. We presented subjects with images of political candidates and asked them to make four trait judgments based solely on viewing the photographs. Subjects were asked which of the two faces exhibited more competence, attractiveness, deceitfulness, and threat, which are arguably four of the most salient attributes that can be conveyed by faces. When we compared our subjects' choices to the actual election outcomes, we found that the candidates chosen as more likely to physically threaten the subjects actually lost 65% of the real elections. As expected, our findings support the conclusions of Todorov, Mandisodza, Goren, and Hall (2005) by showing a positive correlation between the competence judgments and the real election outcomes. Surprisingly, attractiveness was correlated with losing elections, with the effect being driven by faces of candidates who looked politically incompetent yet personally attractive. Our findings have implications for future research on negative political communication, as they suggest that both threatening first impressions and fleeting impressions of attractiveness can harm a candidate's electoral chances.

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Losing Fewer Votes: The Impact of Changing Voting Systems on Residual Votes

Michael Hanmer, Won-Ho Park, Michael Traugott, Richard Niemi, Paul Herrnson, Benjamin Bederson & Frederick Conrad
Political Research Quarterly, March 2010, Pages 129-142

Abstract:
Problems in the 2000 presidential election, especially in Florida, initiated a large-scale shift toward new voting technology. Using cross-sectional and longitudinal data, we report on the effects of changes in voting systems in Florida and Michigan. The variety of initial conditions and the numerous changes make these excellent case studies. We find that reforms succeeded in reducing the residual vote. Every change from old to new technology resulted in a decline in residual votes that was significantly greater than in areas that did not change voting equipment. The percentage of residual votes in the 2004 presidential race in localities that changed voting systems was well under 1 percent, representing a 90 percent reduction in error in Florida and a 35 percent reduction in Michigan. We run these analyses separately for undervotes and overvotes. Using ecological-inference techniques, we investigate the persistence of residual votes when technology changed and find very little persistence.

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The Limited Effects of Testimony on Political Persuasion

Brendan Nyhan
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
The procedure of witness testimony and cross-examination under oath, which is institutionalized in the court system and in Congress, may increase the credibility of political messages by strengthening perceived incentives for truth-telling. In this paper, I test the hypothesis that testimony can increase the persuasiveness of empirical claims in realistic political settings. However, results from a large number of experiments, including numerous national survey experiments, indicate that describing statements as being made in Congressional or court testimony rarely generates significant change in respondents' beliefs or attitudes - a result that is robust to numerous experimental design variations.

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The effects of psychological security and insecurity on political attitudes and leadership preferences

Omri Gillath & Joshua Hart
European Journal of Social Psychology, February 2010, Pages 122-134

Abstract:
Recent research from different perspectives suggests that uncertainty, mortality salience (MS), and other fundamental threats that cause feelings of insecurity motivate people to adhere to specific kinds of anxiety-reducing political attitudes and values. In the current studies, we examined a complementary prediction that providing people with an alternative source of security would reduce their need to defend against insecurity, resulting in lower endorsement of the anxiety-reducing political attitudes. Results supported this prediction, showing that security primes buffered or reversed the effects of insecurity and threats on political attitudes and leadership preferences. Participants primed with attachment security showed reduced liking of a strong, charismatic political candidate (Study 1), and lower support for the Iraq war, even in the face of mortality reminders (Study 2). We discuss these findings in the context of research on motivated social cognition, political psychology, and the effects of security and insecurity on attitudes and behaviors.

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Do You Have a Voting Plan? Implementation Intentions, Voter Turnout, and Organic Plan Making

David Nickerson & Todd Rogers
Psychological Science, February 2010, Pages 194-199

Abstract:
The current research investigated the effects of negative as compared to positive person-based political campaigns on explicit and implicit evaluations of the involved candidates. Participants were presented with two political candidates and statements that one of them ostensibly said during the last political campaign. For half of the participants, the campaign included positive remarks about the source of the statement (positive campaign); for the remaining half, the campaign included negative remarks about the opponent (negative campaign). Afterwards, participants completed measures of explicit and implicit evaluations of both candidates. Results indicate that explicit evaluations of the source, but not the opponent, were less favourable after negative as compared to positive campaigns. In contrast, implicit evaluations were less favourable for both candidates after negative campaigns. The results are discussed in terms of associative and propositional processes, highlighting the importance of associative processes in political decision making.

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Losing on all fronts: The effects of negative versus positive person-based campaigns on implicit and explicit evaluations of political candidates

Luciana Carraro, Bertram Gawronski & Luigi Castelli
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current research investigated the effects of negative as compared to positive person-based political campaigns on explicit and implicit evaluations of the involved candidates. Participants were presented with two political candidates and statements that one of them ostensibly said during the last political campaign. For half of the participants, the campaign included positive remarks about the source of the statement (positive campaign); for the remaining half, the campaign included negative remarks about the opponent (negative campaign). Afterwards, participants completed measures of explicit and implicit evaluations of both candidates. Results indicate that explicit evaluations of the source, but not the opponent, were less favourable after negative as compared to positive campaigns. In contrast, implicit evaluations were less favourable for both candidates after negative campaigns. The results are discussed in terms of associative and propositional processes, highlighting the importance of associative processes in political decision making.

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Cell-Phone-Only Voters in the 2008 Exit Poll and Implications for Future Noncoverage Bias

Michael Mokrzycki, Scott Keeter & Courtney Kennedy
Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 2009, Pages 845-865

Abstract:
Amid growing concern about potential noncoverage bias in random digit dial survey samples that exclude cell phones, a national face-to-face exit poll provided an opportunity to reach November 2008 Election Day voters regardless of telephone status and to evaluate how the cell-only subgroup has changed since the 2004 election. The National Election Pool's survey found a sharp increase in cell-only incidence, comparable to trends for the general public in government surveys, with cell-only status approaching the norm for voters under age 30. But voters age 30 and older actually abandoned landlines at a faster rate, and the difference in presidential vote preference between the cell-only and landline-accessible voters in this age group was even greater than for younger voters. This suggests that typical poststratification weighting adjustments for age may be less likely to mitigate noncoverage bias in future landline-only RDD surveys.

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Political Advertising and Persuasion in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential Elections

Michael Franz & Travis Ridout
American Politics Research, March 2010, Pages 303-329

Abstract:
The 2008 presidential election was historic in many respects. The campaign included the first African American major-party candidate, and neither candidate was an incumbent president or vice president. In addition, one candidate took public funding and the other candidate did not. This latter disparity resulted in an imbalance of resources across the two campaigns, especially in the purchase of political advertising. But did that imbalance matter for who won? Did advertising move voters, and if so, by how much? This article examines patterns of presidential ad buys in 2008 and compares them with presidential ad buys in 2004. It also examines the impact of advertising on county-level vote returns in both years. The results demonstrate some important differences in advertising patterns across years, especially in terms of ad sponsorship and market-level advertising advantages. We also find significant and strong advertising persuasion effects in 2008.

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It Takes a State: A Policy Feedback Model of Women's Political Representation

Eileen McDonagh
Perspectives on Politics, March 2010, Pages 69-91

Abstract:
American women attain more professional success in medicine, business, and higher education than do most of their counterparts around the world. An enduring puzzle is, therefore, why the US lags so far behind other countries when it comes to women's political representation. In 2008, women held only 16.8 percent of seats in the House of Representatives, a proportion that ranks America lower than 83 other countries. This article addresses this conundrum. It establishes that equal rights alone are insufficient to ensure equal access to political office. Also necessary are public policies representing maternal traits that voters associate with women. Such policies have feedback effects that teach voters that the maternal traits attributed to women represent strengths not only in the private sphere of the home but also in the public sphere of the state. Most other democracies now have such policies in place, but the United States lacks such policies, which accounts for its laggard status with regard to the political representation of women.


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