Kevin Lewis

April 19, 2024

Does Political Diversity Inhibit Blood Donations?
Sung Eun Kim & Krzysztof Pelc
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming

Does political diversity affect the prevalence of selfless behavior across a society? According to a recurrent finding from the study of social capital, ethnic diversity reduces prosocial behavior. We ask whether the same applies to partisan identity, by turning to a frequently used proxy for social capital: blood donations. The question is especially timely: the United States is currently experiencing its worst blood shortage in over a decade. Using survey results covering over 275,000 individuals in the US from 2010 to 2020, and a preregistered survey of an additional 3,500 respondents, we show that not all measures of social diversity have analogous effects on prosocial behavior. We find mixed evidence for a region's share of immigrants being linked to lower blood donation by US citizens, and no negative effect for racial diversity. By contrast, political diversity appears to be highly significant. Specifically, individuals are less likely to donate blood when their partisan position is farther from the mean political identity in their state or commuting zone, and when they perceive themselves to be political outliers in their community. Affective polarization is known to be a tax on social interaction with out-partisans; as we show, depending on an area's partisan makeup, it can also be a tax on prosocial behavior writ large.

The Political Geography of the January 6 Insurrectionists
Robert Pape, Kyle Larson & Keven Ruby
PS: Political Science & Politics, forthcoming

What are the local political, economic, and social conditions of the communities that sent insurrectionists to the US Capitol in support of Donald Trump? Using a new dataset of the home counties of individuals charged for the Capitol insurrection, we tested two prominent theories of electoral populism and support for populist leaders like Donald Trump -- demographic change and manufacturing decline -- and whether they also explain violent populism. We also examined the effects of local political conditions. We find that white population decline is a stronger predictor of violent populism and that counties that voted for Trump were less likely to fight for Trump. The effect of white population decline is even greater in counties whose US House Representative rejected the 2020 election results. These findings suggest scholars should resist assuming violent populism is merely an extension of electoral populism, and solutions to one will not necessarily remedy the other.

Misplaced Divides? Discussing Political Disagreement With Strangers Can Be Unexpectedly Positive
Kristina Wald, Michael Kardas & Nicholas Epley
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Differences of opinion between people are common in everyday life, but discussing those differences openly in conversation may be unnecessarily rare. We report three experiments (N = 1,264 U.S.-based adults) demonstrating that people's interest in discussing important but potentially divisive topics is guided by their expectations about how positively the conversation will unfold, leaving them more interested in having a conversation with someone who agrees versus disagrees with them. People's expectations about their conversations, however, were systematically miscalibrated such that people underestimated how positive these conversations would be -- especially in cases of disagreement. Miscalibrated expectations stemmed from underestimating the degree of common ground that would emerge in conversation and from failing to appreciate the power of social forces in conversation that create social connection. Misunderstanding the outcomes of conversation could lead people to avoid discussing disagreements more often, creating a misplaced barrier to learning, social connection, free inquiry, and free expression.

Partisan Source Cues and Trust in Global News
Ashley Blum, Adam Berinsky & David Rand
MIT Working Paper, January 2024

Republicans and Democrats differ widely in their expressed trust in major news outlets, expressing high levels of trust in sources aligned with their partisan views and distrust in sources seen as aligned with the views of the other party. We ask how these attitudes toward sources translate into how people evaluate actual news content related to foreign affairs. Study participants are asked to evaluate actual news content drawn from major news outlets with or without source information included. We compare blind condition evaluations to non-blind condition evaluations to estimate the source effect. We find that while partisan source cues do have a significant effect on participants' trust in global news reporting, the effects are very small relative to what might be expected given the extremely large partisan differences in expressed trust. Thus, such source cue effects seem unlikely to explain the large partisan differences in beliefs that characterize modern American politics.

Impression Management and Expectations of Political Cynicism
Hillary Style
Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

There are many warnings about growing political cynicism in the news and political science literature. While some people may be truly cynical about politics, for others cynical responses to politics may be a form of impression management -- the practice of presenting oneself to others in the way one wishes to be perceived. In three studies, I demonstrate that people report they are cynical in order to avoid giving the impression they do not know much about politics. Political cynicism is not a "socially desirable" characteristic -- people do not believe cynicism is normatively good. At the same time, many see value to cynicism in politics, a finding which carries broad implications for the relationship between cynicism and perceived knowledge in political discourse.

The Minimal Effects of Union Membership on Political Attitudes
Alan Yan
University of California Working Paper, March 2024

Union membership has long been believed to liberalize a range of political attitudes from partisanship to racial prejudice. This paper argues that the theoretical preconditions necessary for such influence are unlikely to hold. Union members may not receive, may ignore, and may deprioritize their union's message compared to other considerations. Previous research faced empirical challenges with causal inference, limited sample sizes, and limited outcomes. My analysis is the first to bring together all of the publicly available panel data. I analyze 13 panel surveys from 1956 to 2020 with 37,621 respondents using difference-in-differences designs to evaluate whether union membership causes political, economic, and social attitudes to liberalize across 57 outcomes. I find that gaining union membership has less meaningful short-term, medium-term, and long-term persuasive effects than previously believed. These results suggest a reconsideration of the role of labor unions in political behavior.

Emigration and radical right populism
Rafaela Dancygier et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

An extensive literature links the rise of populist radical right (PRR) parties to immigration. We argue that another demographic trend is also significant: emigration. The departure of citizens due to internal and international emigration is a major phenomenon affecting elections via two complementary mechanisms. Emigration alters the composition of electorates, but also changes the preferences of the left behind. Empirically, we establish a positive correlation between PRR vote shares and net-migration loss at the subnational level across Europe. A more fine-grained panel analysis of precincts in Sweden demonstrates that the departure of citizens raises PRR vote shares in places of emigration and that the Social Democrats are the principal losers from emigration. Elite interviews and newspaper analyses explore how emigration produces material and psychological grievances on which populists capitalize and that established parties do not effectively address. Emigration and the frustrations it generates emerge as important sources of populist success.

Moral disagreement across politics is explained by different assumptions about who is most vulnerable to harm
Jake Womick et al.
University of North Carolina Working Paper, March 2024

Liberals and conservatives disagree about morality, but explaining this disagreement does not require different moral foundations. All people share a common harm-based mind, making moral judgments based on what seems to cause harm -- but people make different assumptions of who or what is especially vulnerable to harm. Liberals and conservatives emphasize different victims. Across eight studies, we validate a brief face-valid assessment of assumptions of vulnerability (AoVs) across methodologies and samples, linking AoVs to scenario judgments, implicit attitudes, and charity behaviors. AoVs, especially about the Environment, the Othered, the Powerful, the Divine, help explain political disagreement about hot-button issues surrounding abortion, immigration, sacrilege, gay rights, polluting, race, and policing. Liberals seem to amplify differences in vulnerability, splitting the world into the very vulnerable versus the very invulnerable, while conservatives dampen differences, seeing all people as similarly vulnerable to harm. AoVs reveal common cognition -- and potential common ground -- among moral disagreement.

Partisan Bias in Episodes of Political Violence
Justin Michael Zyla
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Imagine two incidents of political violence. In the first, you share political affiliation with the victim. In the second, they reside in the opposite party. How would this minor change -- a shifting label, the difference of a word -- impact your reaction? This article offers empirical insight through an experiment: U.S. participants read a mock college controversy, where a student sent death threats to, and doxed, a professor. The treatment varied whether the perpetrator described the professor as a Democrat, Republican, or used otherwise non-descript (e.g., "political") adjectives. A posttreatment survey then measured respondents' discrete emotions, the penalties they preferred the student receive, and their partisan group identity strength. Participants who read about violence against a copartisan victim showed a statistically significant increase in preferred penalty severity. But violence against an outparty victim mirrored the control, with subjects reacting as if they didn't know the political affiliation of anyone involved. Posttreatment measures also demonstrated the potential for anxiety (but not anger or partisan strength) to mediate this underlying partisan bias.


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