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Partisanship, Political Knowledge, and the Dunning‐Kruger Effect

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Abstract

A widely cited finding in social psychology holds that individuals with low levels of competence will judge themselves to be higher achieving than they really are. In the present study, I examine how the so‐called “Dunning‐Kruger effect” conditions citizens' perceptions of political knowledgeability. While low performers on a political knowledge task are expected to engage in overconfident self‐placement and self‐assessment when reflecting on their performance, I also expect the increased salience of partisan identities to exacerbate this phenomenon due to the effects of directional motivated reasoning. Survey experimental results confirm the Dunning‐Kruger effect in the realm of political knowledge. They also show that individuals with moderately low political expertise rate themselves as increasingly politically knowledgeable when partisan identities are made salient. This below‐average group is also likely to rely on partisan source cues to evaluate the political knowledge of peers. In a concluding section, I comment on the meaning of these findings for contemporary debates about rational ignorance, motivated reasoning, and political polarization.

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... This "Dunning-Kruger effect" has been found on tests of knowledge generally (see, e.g., Soll & Klayman, 2004), and American history (American Revolution Center, 2009) and political behavior (Ortoleva & Snowberg, 2015) specifically. Anson (2018) found this effect in a study of knowledge related to basic political institutions, awareness of current political conditions, and ideological differentiation. Our research examines how this effect applies to First Amendment knowledge. ...
... Following Anson (2018), one subjective knowledge item measured how much participants believed they know about their First Amendment rights ("How much would you say that you know about the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and its provisions?"). Responses were given on a four-point scale ranging from 1 (nothing) to 4 (a great deal). ...
... Even so, we standardized subjective knowledge appraisals and objective knowledge scores and analyzed how these estimations differed across levels of objective knowledge. This allowed us to test for statistically meaningful differences between groups, instead of simply looking at patterns of raw scores and describing, nonstatistically, what the relations between estimated and actual knowledge looked like, as previous researchers had done (e.g., Anson, 2018). ...
Article
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Lacking adequate knowledge about one's rights could inhibit the likelihood of exercising one's rights or lead one to unwittingly violate laws that place legitimate limits on these rights. Thus, the present research examines First Amendment knowledge as well as competence to apply this knowledge in relevant circumstances. Results revealed that one‐quarter of participants failed a test of objective knowledge on First Amendment rights. Furthermore, participants' belief in their ability varied depending on their level of knowledge, in line with the Dunning–Kruger effect. Participants also failed to transfer their limited objective knowledge to “real‐world” situations, exhibiting impaired First Amendment competence. These findings suggest that US residents' levels of knowledge and competence related to First Amendment rights and protections could be improved to promote a safe, knowledgeable, and democratic society.
... (e.g. (Ehrlinger, Johnson, Banner, Dunning, & Kruger, 2008;Pavel, Robertson & Harrison, 2012;Dunning, & Helzer, 2014;Mahmood, 2016;Anson, 2018) "By now this phenomenon (Dunning-Kruger Effect) has been demonstrated even for everyday tasks, about which individuals have likely received substantial feedback regarding their level of knowledge and skill." (Ehrlinger, Johnson, Banner, Dunning, & Kruger, 2008, p. 24). ...
... The over-arching pervasive, strong rhetoric and opinions of social, civic, political, and cultural issues begged us to examine them for the Dunning-Kruger Effect. What we initially sought was an expansion of the recent work of Anson (2018). In that study, the research conducted a dichotomous examination of Left and Right through the lens of Democrat and Republican identification and five topical objective knowledge items. ...
... Several studies in the literature examined the larger list of topical issues utilizing topics that we chose to replicate. (Anson, 2018, Ramseyer & Rasmusen, 2016). The process of electing possible variable items reduced the study to Climate Change, Race, Abortion, Health ...
Article
"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt" (Russell, 1933, p. 28). One seldom hears doubt in the espousing of socio-civic, cultural, or political pronouncements. While the voices seem to always be “cocksure;” we first ask at what level is their objective knowledge and how well do they self-assess that knowledge? We explore how ideological positioning is related to self-assessment and objective knowledge. We conducted a non-comparative (absolute) quantitative study through an email survey of 330 residents of the U.S. over the age of 18 that examined objective socio-civic knowledge and self-assessed ideology and wokeness. The experimental results confirmed misestimations consistent with Dunning-Kruger Effects.
... Now things have changed. Anson (2018) surveyed 2,606 American adults online as to their political knowledge. He found that those who performed worse were more likely to overestimate their performance. ...
... Moreover: When I asked partisans to "grade" political knowledge quizzes filled out by fictional members of the other party, low-skilled respondents gave out scores that reflected party biases much more than actual knowl-edge….More often than not, this means that partisans will think of themselves as far more politically knowledgeable than an out-partisan, even when that person is extremely politically knowledgeable. (Anson, 2018(Anson, , p. 1173 This was more the case among Republicans than Democrats, the former using partisan cues to judge peers' political knowledge to a greater extent confirming, Anson noted, the findings of an emerging literature on "asymmetric polarization" (Anson, 2018). To put it simply, the bulk of those identifying themselves as partisan Republicans, which by 2020 are effectively almost all supporters of Trump, are not only unaware of their being politically misinformed, but dismiss efforts to bring out the actual facts as politically motivated. ...
... Moreover: When I asked partisans to "grade" political knowledge quizzes filled out by fictional members of the other party, low-skilled respondents gave out scores that reflected party biases much more than actual knowl-edge….More often than not, this means that partisans will think of themselves as far more politically knowledgeable than an out-partisan, even when that person is extremely politically knowledgeable. (Anson, 2018(Anson, , p. 1173 This was more the case among Republicans than Democrats, the former using partisan cues to judge peers' political knowledge to a greater extent confirming, Anson noted, the findings of an emerging literature on "asymmetric polarization" (Anson, 2018). To put it simply, the bulk of those identifying themselves as partisan Republicans, which by 2020 are effectively almost all supporters of Trump, are not only unaware of their being politically misinformed, but dismiss efforts to bring out the actual facts as politically motivated. ...
Article
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This article addresses the link between political knowledge and populist attitudes in the United States (US) in comparative perspective. At the beginning of the new decade, populism in the US is associated with support for the Republican party and Donald Trump in particular, and that is how I address it here. Using secondary data from a number of related studies, we find that, overall, support for Trump is not only negatively related to political knowledge, but also to other factors that make his supporters unaware of their being misinformed. This is because, more than for others, partisan cues serve them as a basis for their factual beliefs about political actors and events and assessments of the beliefs of others. While political knowledge has long been comparatively low in the US, as I show in the early part of the article, the relationship between misinformation and populism (i.e., support for Trump) is seen as a new and especially worrisome element. In the concluding section I address what, if anything, could be done to address this situation.
... Much of the literature on political knowledge views Americans as largely uninformed (Campbell et al. 1960;Converse 2006;Kinder and Kalmoe 2017). Beyond lacking opinions on many issues, Americans are often unaware of basic political facts (Anson 2018). They tend to lack information that would be helpful in formulating an opinion (Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996). ...
... Scholars have also found that misinformation is easy to spread and resonates in particular among individuals predisposed to believe in a given lie (Berinsky 2017;Lenz 2012;Nyhan and Reifler 2010). Partisans, in particular, tend to rate themselves as more knowledgeable than they are when their partisan identities are made salient (Anson 2018). Recent research on fact-checking suggests that misperceptions can be corrected without worry of a potential "backlash effect," but that these updates do not change overall evaluations of politicians (Guess and Coppock 2018;Nyhan et al. 2017) These features of the American electorate inform the theoretical argument advanced here. ...
Article
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We examine the effect of biographical knowledge on voters’ assessments of leaders. Prior research has shown that voters infer traits from candidate characteristics such as race, gender and incumbency, which are visible to even poorly-informed voters. Given voters’ limited knowledge, we argue that less-visible attributes may be easily misperceived, possibly affecting overall assessments of candidates. Focusing on President Trump, we find via a national survey that many Americans are unaware that he was born into great wealth. This misperception increases support for Trump, mediated through beliefs that he is both empathetic and good at business. We supplement our observational analysis with an experiment treating respondents with information regarding the role Trump’s father played in his career. This information leads respondents to rate the president more negatively on both empathy and business ability. These findings suggest that correcting information about candidate characteristics can change the minds of even loyal partisans.
... The Dunning-Kruger effect describes individuals with the lowest knowledge or ability in a domain displaying the largest overestimations of their knowledge or ability (Kruger & Dunning, 1999). This phenomenon has been demonstrated with basic political knowledge (Anson, 2018;Ortoleva & Snowberg, 2015) and is especially worrying for considerations of public policy, where nearly everyone lacks extensive knowledge (Lupia, 2016) and people often overestimate their own knowledge regardless of how severely they do so Vitriol & Marsh, 2018). This bias may have real consequences for cases of acute misinformation, as a recent study found that a Dunning-Kruger effect for autism knowledge predicted opposition to mandatory vaccinations (Motta et al., 2018). ...
... Penelitian-penelitian sebelumnya dalam literatur psikologi politik juga telah menunjukkan bahwa pengetahuan politik berperan dalam mengarahkan individu terlibat dalam aksi-aksi politik, seperti ikut dalam pemilihan (Anson, 2018;McAllister, 2016). Hal ini karena pengetahuan politik dalam mendorong individu menjadi lebih tertarik masuk kedalam informasi-informasi politik dan kemudian meningkatkan pengetahuan politiknya (Henn & Foard, 2014). ...
Article
Penelitian ini mengkaji tentang tingkat pengetahuan dan persepsi pemilih pemula terhadap partai politik. Hal ini penting dilakukan karena pengetahuan dan persepsi politik merupakan faktor-faktor yang berperan penting dalam memahami partisipasi politik. Secara praktis, penelitian ini juga penting untuk dilakukan karenapemilih pemula memiliki peranan penting dalam demokrasi dan disaat bersamaan memiliki partisipasi dan ketertarikan politik yang rendah. Oleh karena itu, pada penelitian ini, peneliti berupaya untuk memahami pengetahuan dan persepsi poltik remaja. Secara spesifik, penelitik mengkaji pengetahuan dan persepsi terhadap partai politik sebagai salah satu institutasi politik. Metode yang digunakan adalah kualitatif dengan desain penelitian studi kasus. Teknik pengambilan data yang digunakan adalah wawancara. Partisipan penelitian ini adalah 20 orang siswa sekolah menengah atas yang berusia 16 hingga 18 tahun dan belum pernah memilih. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa pemilih pemula memiliki pengetahuan yang rendah tentang konsep, peran, dan fungsi partai politik. Rendahnya tingkat pengetahuan tersebut diiringi dengan persepsi negatif terhadap partai politik. Pemilih pemula mempersepsikan secara negatif parpol sebagai organisasi yang hanya mementingkan diri sendiri, korupsi, dan hanya melakukan pencitraan.
... Teaching self-assessment is necessary to facilitate student self-efficacy and thus student retention. However, researchers have questioned the value of student self-assessment measures; the hypothesis that students who are least capable are those who are worst at self-assessment has dominated the literature (Mabe and West 1982;Falchikov and Boud 1989;Kruger and Dunning 1999;Dunning et al. 2003;Dunning 2011;Ehrlinger et al. 2008;Bell and Volckmann 2011;Dunning 2013, Ehrlinger andShain 2014;Webb and Karatjas 2018;Anson 2018). This belief has slowed efforts to teach student self-assessment and promote student metacognition. ...
Article
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We seek to understand how the experiences of groups that differ in gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation produce college-level educational performances that differ from the experiences of the dominant majority group. We employ two datasets: a National Database of 24,701 participants and a Paired-Measures Database with 3,323 participants. Both datasets provide demographic information, socioeconomic conditions of status as first-generation student, English as a first language, and interest in majoring in science, and competency scores on understanding science as a way of knowing obtained from the Science Literacy Concept Inventory. The Paired-Measures Database includes additional self-assessed competence ratings that enabled quantifying affective confidence. We meld the ways of knowing of ethics, numeracy, and social justice, especially the social justice concept of Othering, to interpret our data. Two of three competing hypotheses about self-assessment encourage Othering. Our data strongly support the third—that all groups are good at self-assessment and merit equal respect. Women and men are equally competent in science literacy. Women, on average, are more accurate in their self-assessments whereas men, on average, are overconfident. Those with minority sexual orientations register higher competence than the binary-sexual majority but are less confident of their competency. Minority ethnicities, on average, produce significantly lower science literacy scores. With one exception (Middle Eastern), groups produce mean self-assessed competence ratings that are remarkably accurate predictors of their mean competence scores. The three socioeconomic conditions exert significant and unequal impacts across ethnic groups, with Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Pacific Islander data providing some unique results.
... Here, the focus is on self-assessments of participants who are particularly unskilled and/or unsuccessful in a given task; methodologically, most often the lowest skilled quarter of participants is compared to the rest of the participants. In as different areas as humor, grammar, and logic [20] and contexts such as wine tasting [21], political knowledge [22], workplace end user computing [23], and reasoning in general [24] it was found that those participants who performed worst tended to vastly overestimate their performance. Although there is some research on a miscalibration of this type regarding perceived web search efficacy and actual search performance [25,26], there have not been many attempts to study the Dunning-Kruger effect in experimental SAL-scenarios. ...
Preprint
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Metacognitive self-assessments of one's learning performance (calibration) are important elements of Searching as Learning (SAL) tasks. In this SAL study, N = 115 participants were asked to learn for up to 30 minutes about the formation of thunderstorms and lightning by using any suitable internet resources (including multimedia resources). Participants rated their performance in comparison to other participants (placement), estimated the percentage of correct answers (estimation), and indicated their confidence in the correctness of their answers (confidence) in a multiple-choice knowledge test that was filled in one week before (T1) and directly after (T2) the learning phase. Participants furthermore rated the 'familiarity' of terms that do or do not exist in the context of meteorology (overclaiming). Learners tended to underestimate their performance at T1 and there were indicators of a potential Dunning-Kruger effect. Overall, placement and estimation ratings tended to be more accurate at T2. Surprisingly, confidence ratings increased approximately equally for correct as well as incorrect answers. A propensity for overclaiming was positively correlated with most confidence measures and the amount of time learners spent on YouTube was correlated to lower confidence scores. Implications for the design of SAL tasks and SAL studies are discussed.
... In sum, it is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is precisely because they have low ability. It has been hypothesised to play a role in populist support (Azarian, 2018), and a study published in the journal Political Psychology found that the Dunning-Kruger effect not only applies to politics but also appears to be exacerbated when partisan identities are made more salient via use of language and metaphor (Anson, 2018). In other words, those who score low on political knowledge tend to overestimate their expertise even more when greater emphasis is placed on political affiliation. ...
Preprint
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This paper reviews the psycho-social and political science literature on the causes of populism and examines the role of social media in its rise. The paper also looks at relevant scientific literature on how humans reason and form and change their beliefs to suggest avenues for restoring trust in evidence-based political discussion
... When looking at the whole dataset, it is exactly when levels of identification with the EU are low and worries about migrants are high, together with the belief that self-knowledge about the EU is high -one should take into account that people who are not really knowledgeable tend to overestimate their ability and the weaknessess of their fellow citizens, thus reinforcing political polarization (Anson, 2018) -that the desire to leave the EU is stronger. ...
Chapter
A commentary on the main findings presented in the book from a study on young people’s visions and worries for the future of Europe.
... Our strategy builds on the notion that individuals tend to overestimate their knowledge and ability in the political domain, as occurs across many areas in life (Fischhoff et al., 1977;Kuklinski et al., 2000). Paradoxically, overconfidence stems in part from the observation that "ignorance is often invisible to those to suffer from it" (Dunning, 2011, p. 250;see Kruger & Dunning, 1999;Anson, 2018). Particularly when levels of knowledge are low, people tend to lack the meta-cognitive awareness needed to recognize their deficits: they simply do not know they are missing relevant information and thus tend to overestimate their knowledge. ...
Article
This paper addresses the psychological dynamics between internal political efficacy, emotions, and support for populism. Contrary to the extended idea that populism is associated with low levels of political competence, we argue that individuals’ self‐competence beliefs enhance populist attitudes. Individuals who conceive themselves as able to understand and participate effectively in politics are more critical towards politicians and more prone to consider that citizens could do a better job. We also hypothesise that internal efficacy enhances the likelihood of experiencing anger, which in turn promotes populist attitudes. Experimental and comparative observational evidence shows robust direct effects of internal efficacy over populism, as well as a smaller indirect impact via feelings of anger. These findings raise important questions regarding the nature of populism and how to fight it in our emancipated and information‐intensive democratic systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... In sum, it is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is precisely because they have low ability. It has been hypothesised to play a role in populist support (Azarian, 2018), and a study published in the journal Political Psychology found that the Dunning-Kruger effect not only applies to politics but also appears to be exacerbated when partisan identities are made more salient via use of language and metaphor (Anson, 2018). In other words, those who score low on political knowledge tend to overestimate their expertise even more when greater emphasis is placed on political affiliation. ...
Book
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Today’s digital age is beset by in an information crisis that revolves around the five giant evils of confusion, cynicism, fragmentation, irresponsibility and apathy (LSE, 2018). Media system change is an important factor that contributes to the current weakening of democratic institutions and discourse and guardianship of evidence-based, rational policymaking, as well as a crisis of trust in political elites. Such processes undermine the bedrock of liberal democracy and erode societal resilience in turbulent times. While many rightly look towards media reform to solve these problems, for communicators and policymakers to re-engage with a cynical and confused public that now often communicates outside traditional channels, a deeper understanding of how our political beliefs and values are formed and changed is required to accurately analyse the social and psychological underpinnings of the challenges we face. The following text aims to explore and summarise the latest research and literature in a number of disparate fields of potential relevance to the following crucial questions: 1. What factors characterise the weakening of democratic institutions and discourse? What role does media system change play in these? 2. What are the main causes of these factors, and how does today’s digital media environment exacerbate them? 3. What does recent research say about potential solutions to these problems and possible roles for communication and the media?
... include unequivocally supporting open borders or a ban on abortion without acknowledging the costly tradeoffs, or, similarly, having excessive confidence about a politically significant and complicated topic (e.g., climate change, genetic differences between groups) about which one is not an expert (and about which the actual experts have pretty striking disagreements). For example, political partisans often proclaim to be more politically knowledgeable than they are (Ortoleva & Snowberg, 2015), especially when partisan cues are made salient (Anson, 2018). ...
Article
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We argue that because of a long history of intergroup conflict and competition, humans evolved to be tribal creatures. Tribalism is not inherently bad, but it can lead to ideological thinking and sacred values that distort cognitive processing of putatively objective information in ways that affirm and strengthen the views and well-being of one’s ingroup (and that increase one’s own standing within one’s ingroup). Because of this shared evolutionary history of intergroup conflict, liberals and conservatives likely share the same underlying tribal psychology, which creates the potential for ideologically distorted information processing. Over the past several decades, social scientists have sedulously documented various tribal and ideological psychological tendencies on the political right, and more recent work has documented similar tendencies on the political left. We contend that these tribal tendencies and propensities can lead to ideologically distorted information processing in any group. And this ideological epistemology can become especially problematic for the pursuit of the truth when groups are ideologically homogenous and hold sacred values that might be contradicted by empirical inquiry. Evidence suggests that these conditions might hold for modern social science; therefore, we conclude by exploring potential ideologically driven distortions in the social sciences.
... Education has been known to play a role in understanding politics, particularly voter turnout (Burden, 2009), which directly affected how people claimed knowledge about the political process and the candidates within a given race. Anson (2018) provided a framework in which we could better understand how the DKE may have caused those with lesser knowledge (and as a proxy measure, perhaps lesser education) to affect political processes through "political overconfidence" (p. 2). ...
Article
Full-text available
Belief in media sources' accuracy and trust in media outlets has become a topic of great interest given the current political climate in the United States following the 2016 presidential election and the emergence of so-called "fake news." An understanding of how educational attainment may affect the level at which a person believes the media to be accurate and how much people trust the media is examined here, with the results connected to the Dunning-Kruger Effect (DKE) (Kruger & Dunning, 1999). A survey distributed in the months before the fall 2018 midterm elections collected data on political affiliation, level of education attained, trust in the media, and the perceived effectiveness and re-electability of United States President Donald Trump. Data were examined by educational attainment only, then by educational attainment of those indicating a political affiliation of Democrat, Republican, or Independent/Other. While some significant relationships emerged, overall, there was no indication of the DKE present in responses focused on the media. A further examination of question coupling was undertaken, which revealed that respondents with lower education levels created illogical response couplings more frequently than respondents with higher education levels. Respondents that indicated they did not follow politics, were uninformed concerning politics, did not think that the media was accurate, and did not trust the media, were shown to construct definitive answers concerning questions that require knowledge of politics in the present. While no political affiliation was attached to the last response group, educational attainment was, which showed that those in lower attainment categories comprised at least two-thirds of the group respondents who constructed illogical or contradictory response couplings. Inattention while completing the survey may explain some of the effects, but the DKE does appear to be present in the results.
... Despite the hopeful optimism of this view, social and political psychologists depict a considerably less sanguine account of reasoning. Individuals on all sides of the political spectrum show systematic biases in their reasoning about the evidence, and those who most actively engage the arguments are likely the most biased of all (Leeper and Slothuus 2014;Anson 2018;Mason 2018). Sometimes, enough sustained engagement with the reasons can yield a more rational kind of epistemic behavior. ...
Article
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Being open to persuasion can help show respect for an interlocutor. At the same time, open-mindedness about morally objectionable claims can carry moral as well as epistemic risks. Our aim in this paper is to specify when there might be duty to be open to persuasion. We distinguish two possible interpretations of openness. First, openness might refer to a kind of mental state, wherein one is willing to revise or abandon present beliefs. Second, it might refer to a deliberative practice, according to which one is willing to engage with opposing reasons. We suggest these two interpretations are conceptually and empirically distinct. Once disambiguated, we suggest that different contexts may make different forms of openness appropriate as expressions of respect.
... Notably, exposure to information about the scientific consensus supporting anthropogenic climate change leads to greater expressed belief in these facts (21). Similarly, recent research has found that people's self-awareness of their (lack of) knowledge is greater than earlier research indicated, although the least informed people are most likely to overestimate their performance (39)(40)(41). This meta-awareness of one's lack of knowledge would similarly suggest that people can in some cases recognize what they do not know when presented with contradictory or uncongenial information. ...
Article
Previous research indicated that corrective information can sometimes provoke a so-called “backfire effect” in which respondents more strongly endorsed a misperception about a controversial political or scientific issue when their beliefs or predispositions were challenged. I show how subsequent research and media coverage seized on this finding, distorting its generality and exaggerating its role relative to other factors in explaining the durability of political misperceptions. To the contrary, an emerging research consensus finds that corrective information is typically at least somewhat effective at increasing belief accuracy when received by respondents. However, the research that I review suggests that the accuracy-increasing effects of corrective information like fact checks often do not last or accumulate; instead, they frequently seem to decay or be overwhelmed by cues from elites and the media promoting more congenial but less accurate claims. As a result, misperceptions typically persist in public opinion for years after they have been debunked. Given these realities, the primary challenge for scientific communication is not to prevent backfire effects but instead, to understand how to target corrective information better and to make it more effective. Ultimately, however, the best approach is to disrupt the formation of linkages between group identities and false claims and to reduce the flow of cues reinforcing those claims from elites and the media. Doing so will require a shift from a strategy focused on providing information to the public to one that considers the roles of intermediaries in forming and maintaining belief systems.
... Бити партијски идентификован значи у некој мери имати унапред донету одлуку да ће се на изборима учествовати и да ће се гласати за специфичну политичку партију/кандидата/коалицију (Pavlović & Todosijević, 2018). Чак и ако заправо нису информисанији од грађана и грађанки без партијске идентификације, страначке присташе појачано верују у сопствене, наводно натпросечне политичке способности/информисаност, што додатно мотивационо делује (Anson, 2018). ...
Chapter
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Партијска идентификација један је од најважнијих појмова у анализи политичког понашања људи. Развијена у западњачком и двопартијском контексту, с мање или више успеха примењивана је као хеуристички модел у земљама с вишепартијским системима, попут Србије. Предмет овог рада је анализа партијске идентификације у Србији у периоду 1990–2020. Дискутовано је о природи партијске идентификације и изложени су њени главни модели, Мичигенски и ревизионистички. Потом је дат кратак приказ емпиријских истраживања раширености и значаја партијске идентификације у Србији почев од 1990. Након тога изложени су резултати секундарне анализе већег броја јавномњењских истраживања о раширености партијске идентификације у Србији у тродеценијском периоду. Подаци указују на то да је партијска идентификација, схваћена као осећај блискости и психолошке привржености политичкој партији, нестабилна и генерално на ниском нивоу. Ипак, њен значај за изборну оријентацију је неспоран – велика већина оних који се идентификују са конкретном политичком партијом склона је гласању за ту конкретну партију. У закључном делу дискутован је значај приказаних података у контексту доминантних модела партијске идентификације
... A related problem that is pervasive, however, is that not enough children, adolescents, and adults are thinking critically in their daily lives. They seem to be more comfortable accepting fake facts that support their comfort zone, especially when this incorrect information is connected to their limited perspectives and cognitive biases (Anson, 2018;Azarian, 2018;Dunning, 2011Dunning, , 2016Kahneman, 2011;Kruger & Dunning, 1999;Nilson, 2018). Educators therefore need to accept the responsibility of and commitment to promoting critical thinking as an educational priority and a practical reality (Haber, 2020a(Haber, , 2020b. ...
... They simply engage with populist assumptions about the social categories. This was also shown in the Dunning-Krueger effect, where assumption about one's competence is flawed when observed closely (see also Anson, 2018). However, each determining event is picture in itself, and people are involved in various social and psychological events within them, which Harre (2016) pointed as 'conceptual essence' (p. ...
Article
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This paper draws attention to the meaning of data, politics and reality in social psychology. Since social psychological data matters, critical reflection on data handling and interpretations expands the horizon of social psychology beyond the cause-effect nexus. Social psychological enterprise is a political field where the role of structure and power give meaning to the data, and hence construct the reality. This can be further situated in the institutions and the dominant paradigm which regulates the structuring of data and interpretations. The current paper debates the politics of data, human agency, and the way data in social psychology has the potential to be liberating and change-oriented.
... Therefore, people might not make any effort to find out the information. While it is possible that people do not care about missing political information, previous research on self-motivation for learning new information has demonstrated that no one would like to be viewed as ignorant of what happened (Anson 2018). In other words, people would feel embarrassed by not knowing something important and thus generate the self-learning motivation intrinsically. ...
Article
Election polls have been widely used to probe and understand the public’s political attitudes and behaviour. However, they might simultaneously motivate people to seek information about the questions they do not know when they are asked in the polls. Given that past studies have ignored the role of polls in motivating individual information seeking, this study aims to examine the effect of polls on individual knowledge of the electoral system. Specifically, this study addresses whether individuals’ participation in the election poll would increase their understanding of the electoral system of the legislative election in Taiwan. Using survey data from Taiwan’s Election and Democratisation Study (TEDS) 2016 presidential and legislative elections, this study finds that people who are asked questions about the legislative election in the first survey are more likely to provide correct answers in the second survey compared to their counterparts. The findings imply that election polls are not only tools for understanding public opinion on competing parties or candidates and policy issues, but also for stimulating individuals to understand politics.
... Moreover, finding an effect of desirability on IOED in a narrative domain reaffirms the idea that attention to heuristic cues is a metacognitive mechanism of a general nature, whose effects are independent of the form of knowledge representation. Beyond its theoretical implications, this effect poses important challenges for education and contemporary politics, since it suggests that, in conditions of political agitation or ideological radicalization, citizens may inadequately monitor the processes through which they make political decisions, which has strong historical implications (Anson, 2018). ...
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The Illusion of Explanatory Depth (IOED) occurs when people overestimate their ability to explain the causal mechanisms of natural or social processes. Prior research has attributed this metacognitive bias to confounding the understanding of abstract causal patterns with the comprehension of domain-specific mechanisms. However, this explanation does not account for the differences in the magnitude of IOED among topics with similar causal properties or belonging to the same explanatory domain. In four experiments, we investigated whether the social desirability of knowledge about historical events and legislative proposals influences the estimation of their causal understanding (Experiments 1, 2, and 3), and whether this effect is moderated by the ability to perform controlled processing (Experiment 4). The results showed that the IOED was higher in topics whose knowledge was rated as more socially desirable (Experiment 1) and that this effect was not due to lack of familiarity or to self-enhancement bias (Experiments 2 and 3). Additionally, the ability to carry out Type-2 processing was associated with a reduction in the effect of social desirability on the IOED (Experiment 4). These findings demonstrate the importance of developing models that integrate dual processing theories in the understanding of metacognitive processes.
... The Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when someone of low ability is unable to properly judge their competence in a specific subject. This has been documented in detail within politics, robberies, elderly drivers, interview skills, and medical student clerkships 5,6,7,8,9 . Needless to say, the unconscious and incompetent medical practitioner is a very dangerous one that needs careful monitoring. ...
... For example, recent study showed that overclaiming together with overconfidence (increased self-perceived understanding yet decreased actual knowledge) predicted an anti-establishment vote (van Prooijen & Krouwel, 2020). Moreover, other studies showed that overconfidence can influence political reasoning (Motta et al., 2018), that the strength of political partisanship and ideological extremeness can be predicted by overconfidence in one's beliefs (Ortoleva & Snowberg, 2015a, 2015b, and that priming partisanship can lead to overconfidence especially in the least knowledgeable participants (Anson, 2018). Similarly, Druckman (2004) found that those people who are the most susceptible to contextual influence (such as the framing effect) on their political preference are, at the same time, most confident in their judgment, thus showing overconfidence. ...
... In the political arena, actors often describe their opponents as incompetent or stupid (e.g., Anson, 2018;Mark, 2006). Indeed, empirical evidence supports the view that a link between cognitive abilities and political attitudes exists (e.g., Kanazawa, 2010;Meisenberg, 2015). ...
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Evidence on the association of cognitive ability with economic attitudes is mixed. We conducted a meta-analysis ( k = 20, N = 46,426) to examine the relationship between objective measures of cognitive ability and economic ideology and analyzed survey data ( N = 3,375) to test theoretical explanations for the association. The meta-analysis provided evidence for a small positive association with a weighted mean effect size of r = .07 (95% CI = [0.02, 0.12]), suggesting that higher cognitive ability is associated with conservative views on economic issues, but effect sizes were extremely heterogeneous. Tests using representative survey data provided support for both a positive association of cognitive ability with economic conservatism that is mediated through income as well as for a negative association that is mediated through a higher need for certainty. Hence, multiple causal mechanisms with countervailing effects might explain the low overall association of cognitive ability with economic political attitudes.
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We examine the role of overconfidence in news judgment using two large nationally representative survey samples. First, we show that three in four Americans overestimate their relative ability to distinguish between legitimate and false news headlines; respondents place themselves 22 percentiles higher than warranted on average. This overconfidence is in turn correlated with consequential differences in real-world beliefs and behavior. We show that overconfident individuals are more likely to visit untrustworthy websites in behavioral data; to fail to successfully distinguish between true and false claims about current events in survey questions; and report greater willingness to like or share false content on social media, especially when it is politically congenial. In all, these results paint a worrying picture: the individuals who are least equipped to identify false news content are also the least aware of their own limitations and therefore more susceptible to believing it and spreading it further.
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We examine the effect of biographical knowledge on voters' assessments of leaders. Studies showing that voters infer traits from candidate characteristics focus on attributes such as race, gender and incumbency, which are visible to even poorly-informed voters. Given voters' limited knowledge, we argue that misperceptions regarding other attributes underlie assessments of candidates. Focusing on President Trump, we find via a national survey that many Americans are unaware that he was born into great wealth. This misperception increases support for Trump, mediated through beliefs that he is both empathetic and good at business. We supplement our observational analysis with an experiment treating respondents with information regarding the role Trump's father played in his career. This information leads respondents to rate the president more negatively on both empathy and business ability. These findings suggest that correcting information about candidate characteristics can change the minds of even loyal partisans. 1
Article
The Dunning–Kruger Effect (DKE) describes the cognitive bias in which novices tend to overestimate performance or competence while experts tend to underestimate. Those who are lacking in competence do not have the skills to accurately recognize deficient performance. Subjective assessment is used widely in simulation learning and in nursing curricula, yet often without expert feedback and reflective discussions, which can result in mistakes being overlooked and encoded, which could subsequently result in clinical errors. The prevalence of DKE should not be interpreted solely as a deprecation of the use of subjective measures, but rather as an indicator of the need for improving self-reflection, metacognition, and an opportunity for formative feedback.
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How do echo chambers operate? Why does social propagation of information become trapped within the boundaries of social groups? Previous studies of these questions have identified informational and structural factors which hinder information exchange across group boundaries; these factors constitute “chambers” in which information flows are confined and transformed into “echoes.” However, empirical evidence has indicated that these factors may not sufficiently explain the mechanism of echo chambers. Hence, the present study investigated whether the insular flow of information emerges and endures without the chambers. A randomized controlled experiment was conducted in which participants, who were classified into two political groups, exchanged randomly selected articles with the same number of ingroup and outgroup neighbors. The experiment manipulated the directionality of incoming information flow by varying the number of articles sent from ingroup neighbors across two conditions. Analyses revealed that the ingroup-slanted inflow induced ingroup-slanted outflow, suppressing transmission toward neighbors in a different social group. The biased inflow also promoted positive reactions to information exchanges and reduced negative evaluations on the exchanged information. Furthermore, the ingroup-slanted inflow increased false perceptions of ingroup majority, which is known to encourage information dissemination by a social group. The present study suggests two self-reinforcing mechanisms of ingroup-biased flows that generate echoes even without the chambers. These mechanisms may enable a small group of strategic actors to exacerbate polarization within a large population by manipulating directions of information flow.
Article
Kruger and Dunning (1999) described a metacognitive bias in which insight into performance is linked to competence: poorer performers are less aware of their mistakes than better performers. Competence-based insight has been argued to apply generally across task domains, including a recent report investigating social cognition using a variety of face-matching tasks. Problematically, serious statistical and methodological criticisms have been directed against the traditional method of analysis used by researchers in this field. Here, we further illustrate these issues and investigate new sources of insight within unfamiliar face matching. Over two experiments (total N = 1077), where Experiment 2 was a preregistered replication of the key findings from Experiment 1, we found that insight into performance was multi-faceted. Participants demonstrated insight which was not based on competence, in the form of accurate updating of estimated performance. We also found evidence of insight which was based on competence: the difference in confidence on correct versus incorrect trials increased with competence. By providing ways that we can move beyond problematic, traditional approaches, we have begun to reveal a more realistic story regarding the nature of insight into face perception.
Chapter
Political knowledge is the primary indicator of political sophistication, which refers to expertise in the realm of politics. Sophisticated individuals hold more accurate, stable, and consistent political opinions and display many behaviors that are widely considered conducive for democracy. Political knowledge is also largely synonymous with political awareness. For methodological and pragmatic reasons, it would often be convenient to assess individuals’ knowledge about politics through survey self-assessments. Surveys are increasingly conducted online without supervision by a professional interviewer, which makes it impossible to reliably ask knowledge questions due to googling. Self-assessments offer a potential way around the problem, but their reliability has not yet been ascertained. The scarce evidence about the accuracy of such evaluations and research on cognitive biases suggests that they are likely to be inaccurate. This article offers evidence of the accuracy of self-assessments of political sophistication among various sociodemographic groups. The analysis makes use of recently gathered data focusing on political sophistication in Finland among a representative sample of the voting age population. The findings offer some optimism regarding self-assessments as a proxy for more extensive measures of political awareness. However, age and gender-related differences in accuracy are cause for some concern.
Article
The reported study investigated the effects of normative factors and metacognitions on opinion expression behavior. It sought to add to the knowledge base by probing the extent to which they operate additively or non-additively. Participants were placed in an online opinion environment and given the choice about whether and how to express something. Perceived minority opinion status, trait-like fear of social isolation, situationally-dependent beliefs about the sanctions one would receive for expressing something, attitude strength, and attitude certainty were measured. The results failed to support a non-additive effect. Rather, three normative factors independently predicted whether participants commented, and attitude certainty solely predicted the directness of participants’ expressions. We speculate that normative beliefs may contribute to participants’ decisions about whether to express something, and metacognitions may contribute to the form of those expressions.
Article
Gaslighting brings its victims to doubt the sources of their evidence. This article holds that political gaslighting, by leading citizens to hold beliefs disconnected from the available evidence, poses a distinctive threat to democratic politics. But holding “audacious beliefs”—beliefs that are ahead of the evidence—can serve as a core ingredient for democratic movements. This creates a dilemma for citizens, who must choose between two kinds of evidential policies. How can they protect themselves from gaslighting without rendering themselves insusceptible to the mobilizing efforts central to democratic politics? Citizens, then, face a standing challenge: to remain open to the bully pulpit while vigilant against the gaslighter's epistemic bullying.
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This study examined the influence of consumer empowerment and its self-assessment on consumers’ information search behavior and consumer life satisfaction; it also examined whether the results were consistent with the Dunning−Kruger effect. A total of 977 consumers who participated in a national consumer survey were divided into four groups, based on their level of empowerment and self-assessment. The Dunning−Kruger effect was observed in the consumer empowerment results, with 35.9% of respondents showing imbalanced empowerment and self-assessment levels. A general linear model was used to examine the survey results, which indicated that the main effect of empowerment had no significant effect on information searching or consumer life satisfaction. However, there was a significant main effect of self-assessment on both dependent variables. In addition, the interaction of empowerment and self-assessment had a significant effect only on information search behavior. Consequently, it can be concluded that self-assessed empowerment, rather than actual consumer empowerment, affects information search and consumer life satisfaction.
Article
Scholars of comparative constitution-making and direct democracy agree that economic conditions affect public support for constitutional reform but disagree as to how. Prospect theory suggests both approaches may be correct, depending on the political and economic context in which voters operate. Fourteen states periodically ask their citizens whether to call a state constitutional convention, making this the oldest form of direct democracy in the United States. We test our theory in pre-election polls in two of these states and a survey experiment. According to the results, negative perceptions of economic and government performance increase support for conventions when voters view them as opportunities to correct problems. On the other hand, if a convention represents a chance to improve on an acceptable status quo, voters with positive performance evaluations become more supportive. Our findings contribute to the heuristics literature and inform normative debates over direct democracy and popular constitutionalism.
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Reflective practice has gained traction in clinical psychology largely to address the fact that practitioners must frequently “use their heads” when scientific data are not readily available. Despite their widespread adoption, reflective practice techniques are largely lacking in supportive outcome evidence. We contend that the reflective practice literature has remained largely disconnected from basic psychological science, especially work on the limitations of (a) introspection as a means of becoming aware of one's biases, (b) self‐assessment, and (c) acquiring expertise from experience. To realize its potential, the reflective practice literature will need to forge closer connections with work on social cognition and debiasing, and to determine whether its techniques enhance patient outcomes and the validity of clinicians’ judgments and predictions.
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The Dunning–Kruger Effect refers to a common failure of metacognitive insight in which people who are incompetent in a given domain are unaware of their incompetence. This effect has been found in a wide range of tasks, raising the question of whether there is any ‘special’ domain in which it is not found. One plausible candidate is face perception, which has sometimes been thought to be ‘special’. To test this possibility, we assessed participants' insight into their own face perception abilities (self-estimates) and those of other people (peer estimates). We found classic Dunning–Kruger Effects in matching tasks for unfamiliar identity, familiar identity, gaze direction, and emotional expression. Low performers overestimated themselves, and high performers underestimated themselves. Interestingly, participants' self-estimates were more stable across tasks than their actual performance. In addition, peer estimates revealed a consistent egocentric bias. High performers attributed higher accuracy to other people than did low performers. We conclude that metacognitive insight into face perception abilities is limited and subject to systematic biases. Our findings urge caution when interpreting self-report measures of face perception ability. They also reveal a fundamental source of uncertainty in social interactions.
Chapter
Authoritarian populism is spreading through the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, threatening long existing democracies. This is a response to social change and to the economic consequences of the 2008 recession. Donald Trump is riding the crest of this social movement and undermining American democracy in profoundly disturbing ways. His relentless use of fear, anger, lies, and intimidation places him very much in the mode of Adolph Hitler.
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Gender differences in political knowledge are a well-known empirical finding in public opinion research. Scholars working in this area have proposed various explanations for this phenomenon, often focusing on issues regarding the format and content of factual knowledge batteries. Yet, there are surprisingly few works that focus on how scholars might diversify the content of political knowledge measures to develop items that are less biased toward male areas of expertise. In this paper, we propose an inductive framework to develop more gender-balanced knowledge batteries by including political issues that are of particular relevance to women and women’s lives. Employing gender-balanced measures of political knowledge reveal instances where women and men demonstrate equivalent levels of political knowledge and higher levels of political interest and efficacy among women—engagement that is often masked by conventional measures of knowledge.
Chapter
Leadership introduces distinctive risks of ethical failure. These risks are often associated with the heightened responsibilities of leadership and the necessary inequality that leading a group often involves. But people who are prone to ethical failure are also prone to self-selection into leadership positions. In order to understand and prevent ethical failure in leadership, it is not enough to take steps to address and prevent ethical failure among existing leaders. Rather, avoiding ethical failure may also require rethinking the ways that leaders are selected.
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One of the most notable recent developments in survey research is the increased usage of online convenience samples drawn from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk). While scholars have noted various social and political differences (e.g., age, partisanship) between MTurk and population-based samples, the breadth and depth of these variations remain unclear. We investigate the extent to which MTurk samples differ from population samples, and the underlying nature of these differences. We do so by replicating items from the population-based American National Election Studies (ANES) 2012 Time Series Study in a survey administered to a sample of MTurk respondents. With few exceptions, we not only find that MTurk respondents differ significantly from respondents completing the 2012 ANES via the Web but also that most differences are reduced considerably when controlling for easily measurable sample features. Thus, MTurk respondents do not appear to differ fundamentally from population-based respondents in unmeasurable ways. This suggests that MTurk data can be used to advance research programs, particularly if researchers measure and account for a range of political and demographic variables as needed.
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As Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) has surged in popularity throughout political science, scholars have increasingly challenged the external validity of inferences made drawing upon MTurk samples. At workshops and conferences experimental and survey-based researchers hear questions about the demographic characteristics, political preferences, occupation, and geographic location of MTurk respondents. In this paper we answer these questions and present a number of novel results. By introducing a new benchmark comparison for MTurk surveys, the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, we compare the joint distributions of age, gender, and race among MTurk respondents within the United States. In addition, we compare political, occupational, and geographical information about respondents from MTurk and CCES. Throughout the paper we show several ways that political scientists can use the strengths of MTurk to attract respondents with specific characteristics of interest to best answer their substantive research questions.
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According to some recent research, Americans hold a great deal of misinformation about important political issues. However, such investigations treat incorrect answers to quiz questions measuring knowledge as evidence of misinformation. This study instead defines misperceptions as incorrect answers that respondents are confident are correct. Two surveys of representative samples of American adults on the Affordable Care Act reveal that most people were uncertain about the provisions in the law. Confidently held incorrect beliefs were far less common than incorrect answers. Misperceptions were most prevalent on aspects of the law on which elites prominently and persistently made incorrect claims. Furthermore, although Americans appear to have learned about the law between 2010 and 2012, misperceptions on many provisions of the law persisted.
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We examine the trade-offs associated with using Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) interface for subject recruitment. We first describe MTurk and its promise as a vehicle for performing low-cost and easy-to-field experiments. We then assess the internal and external validity of experiments performed using MTurk, employing a framework that can be used to evaluate other subject pools. We first investigate the characteristics of samples drawn from the MTurk population. We show that respondents recruited in this manner are often more representative of the U.S. population than in-person convenience samples—the modal sample in published experimental political science—but less representative than subjects in Internet-based panels or national probability samples. Finally, we replicate important published experimental work using MTurk samples.
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Despite the importance of self-awareness for managerial success, many organizational members hold overly optimistic views of their expertise and performance-a phenomenon particularly prevalent among those least skilled in a given domain. We examined whether this same pattern extends to appraisals of emotional intelligence (EI), a critical managerial competency. We also examined why this overoptimism tends to survive explicit feedback about performance. Across 3 studies involving professional students, we found that the least skilled had limited insight into deficits in their performance. Moreover, when given concrete feedback, low performers disparaged either the accuracy or the relevance of that feedback, depending on how expediently they could do so. Consequently, they expressed more reluctance than top performers to pursue various paths to self-improvement, including purchasing a book on EI or paying for professional coaching. Paradoxically, it was top performers who indicated a stronger desire to improve their EI following feedback. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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Successful negotiation of everyday life would seem to require people to possess insight about deficiencies in their intellectual and social skills. However, people tend to be blissfully unaware of their incompetence. This lack of awareness arises because poor performers are doubly cursed: Their lack of skill deprives them not only of the ability to produce correct responses, but also of the expertise necessary to surmise that they are not producing them. People base their perceptions of performance, in part, on their preconceived notions about their skills. Because these notions often do not correlate with objective performance, they can lead people to make judgments about their performance that have little to do with actual accomplishment.
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▪ Abstract Is it possible for people to join their way to good citizenship? Contemporary thinking, both academic and popular, often leaves the impression that it is, but a careful investigation of the evidence raises serious doubts. In actuality, belonging to voluntary associations is a woefully inadequate foundation for good citizenship for three primary reasons: People join groups that are homogeneous, not heterogeneous; civic participation does not lead to, and may turn people away from, political participation; and not all groups promote democratic values. Good citizens need to learn that democracy is messy, inefficient, and conflict-ridden. Voluntary associations do not teach these lessons.
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One of the most contested questions in the social sciences is whether people behave rationally. A large body of work assumes that individuals do in fact make rational economic, political, and social decisions. Yet hundreds of experiments suggest that this is not the case. Framing effects constitute one of the most stunning and influential demonstrations of irrationality. The effects not only challenge the foundational assumptions of much of the social sciences (e.g., the existence of coherent preferences or stable attitudes), but also lead many scholars to adopt alternative approaches (e.g., prospect theory). Surprisingly, virtually no work has sought to specify the political conditions under which framing effects occur. I fill this gap by offering a theory and experimental test. I show how contextual forces (e.g., elite competition, deliberation) and individual attributes (e.g., expertise) affect the success of framing. The results provide insight into when rationality assumptions apply and, also, have broad implications for political psychology and experimental methods.
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That women exhibit lower levels of political knowledge than men is a common and consistent finding in political science research. Recently, scholars have begun examining whether the content and structure of political knowledge measures contribute to women’s perceived knowledge deficit. In an attempt to enter the debate on the explanations for gender differences in knowledge, I create and test a number of measures of gender-relevant political knowledge to determine whether broadening our definitions of what constitutes “knowledge” may help us more clearly understand the apparent gender gap in political knowledge in the United States. The results indicate that expected gender differences disappear when respondents are asked about the levels of women’s representation in the national government.
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We confront a central assertion of the Kramer (1983) critique of using survey data to study economic voting: namely, that individuals' reported economic perceptions con-tain information that is largely unrelated to the economy. We show theoretically that individuals who are trying to understand their own economic situation will often be better off relying on local—rather than personal or national—economic information, and that this produces behavior similar to sociotropic voting. Examining data from a novel survey instrument that asks respondents their numerical assessment of the unem-ployment rate confirms this hypothesis. Specifically, individuals' economic perceptions respond to local conditions. Moreover, these perceptions associate with individuals' vote choices. Extending our analysis to a time series of polls from 1980–2008, we ver-ify that patterns in individual data also exist in aggregate economic perceptions and political support. for encouragement and suggestions, and seminar audiences at LSE, MIT, NYU, Temple and Yale for useful feedback and comments.
Book
The number of independent voters in America increases each year, yet they remain misunderstood by both media and academics. Media describe independents as pivotal for electoral outcomes. Political scientists conclude that independents are merely 'undercover partisans': people who secretly hold partisan beliefs and are thus politically inconsequential. Both the pundits and the political scientists are wrong, argue the authors. They show that many Americans are becoming embarrassed of their political party. They deny to pollsters, party activists, friends, and even themselves, their true partisanship, instead choosing to go 'undercover' as independents. Independent Politics demonstrates that people intentionally mask their partisan preferences in social situations. Most importantly, breaking with decades of previous research, it argues that independents are highly politically consequential. The same motivations that lead people to identify as independent also diminish their willingness to engage in the types of political action that sustain the grassroots movements of American politics.
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Large numbers of Americans endorse political rumors on surveys. But do they truly believe what they say? In this paper, I assess the extent to which subscription to political rumors represents genuine beliefs as opposed to expressive responses—rumor endorsements designed to express opposition to politicians and policies rather than genuine belief in false information. I ran several experiments, each designed to reduce expressive responding on two topics: among Republicans on the question of whether Barack Obama is a Muslim and among Democrats on whether members of the federal government had advance knowledge about 9/11. The null results of all experiments lead to the same conclusion: the incidence of expressive responding is very small, though somewhat larger for Democrats than Republicans. These results suggest that survey responses serve as a window into the underlying beliefs and true preferences of the mass public.
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Weighting techniques are employed to generalize results from survey experiments to populations of theoretical and substantive interest. Although weighting is often viewed as a second-order methodological issue, these adjustment methods invoke untestable assumptions about the nature of sample selection and potential heterogeneity in the treatment effect. Therefore, although weighting is a useful technique in estimating population quantities, it can introduce bias and also be used as a researcher degree of freedom. We review survey experiments published in three major journals from 2000–2015 and find that there are no standard operating procedures for weighting survey experiments. We argue that all survey experiments should report the sample average treatment effect (SATE). Researchers seeking to generalize to a broader population can weight to estimate the population average treatment effect (PATE), but should discuss the construction and application of weights in a detailed and transparent manner given the possibility that weighting can introduce bias.
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Political misperceptions can distort public debate and undermine people's ability to form meaningful opinions. Why do people often hold these false or unsupported beliefs, and why is it sometimes so difficult to convince them otherwise? We argue that political misperceptions are typically rooted in directionally motivated reasoning, which limits the effectiveness of corrective information about controversial issues and political figures. We discuss factors known to affect the prevalence of directionally motivated reasoning and assess strategies for accurately measuring misperceptions in surveys. Finally, we address the normative implications of misperceptions for democracy and suggest important topics for future research.
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This paper analyzes the effects of biases in economic information on partisans’ economic perceptions. In survey experiments, I manipulate the presence of partisan cues and the direction of proattitudinal information in news stories about the American economy. Results demonstrate that although proattitudinal tone in factual economic news stories most strongly affects partisans’ economic perceptions, inclusion of partisan cues alongside proattitudinal information results in weaker shifts in economic sentiment relative to stories lacking partisan content. These findings suggest that the relatively subtle process of agenda setting in economic news may be the most effective tool used by partisan news outlets to drive polarization in citizens’ factual economic perceptions.
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When surveyed about economic conditions, supporters of the president's party often report more positive conditions than its opponents. Scholars have interpreted this finding to mean that partisans cannot even agree on matters of fact. We test an alternative interpretation: Partisans give partisan congenial answers even when they have, or could have inferred, information less flattering to the party they identify with. To test this hypothesis, we administered two surveys to nationally representative samples, experimentally manipulating respondents' motivation to be accurate via monetary incentives and on-screen appeals. Both treatments reduced partisan differences in reports of economic conditions significantly. Many partisans interpret factual questions about economic conditions as opinion questions, unless motivated to see them otherwise. Typical survey conditions thus reveal a mix of what partisans know about the economy, and what they would like to be true.
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The media environment is changing. Today in the United States, the average viewer can choose from hundreds of channels, including several twenty-four hour news channels. News is on cell phones, on iPods, and online; it has become a ubiquitous and unavoidable reality in modern society. The purpose of this book is to examine systematically, how these differences in access and form of media affect political behaviour. Using experiments and new survey data, it shows how changes in the media environment reverberate through the political system, affecting news exposure, political learning, turnout, and voting behavior.
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Over the past half-century, two overarching topics have dominated the study of mass political behaviour: How do ordinary citizens form their political judgments, and how good are they from a normative perspective? This book provides a novel goal-based approach to these questions, one that compels a wholesale rethinking of the roots of responsible democratic citizenship. The central claim of the book is that partisan identity comes in qualitatively different forms, with distinct political consequences. Blind partisan loyalty, as the pejorative label implies, facilitates bias and reduces attention to valuable information. Critical loyalty, by doing the opposite, outperforms standard measures of political engagement in leading to normatively desirable judgments. Drawing on both experimental and survey methods-as well as five decades of American political history-this book examines the nature and quality of mass political judgment across a wide range of political contexts, from perceptions of the economy, to the formation, updating, and organization of public policy preferences, to electoral judgment and partisan change. Contrary to much previous scholarship, the empirical findings reveal that rational judgment-holding preferences that align with one's material interests, values, and relevant facts-does not hinge on cognitive ability. Rather, breaking out of the apathy-versus-bias prison requires critical involvement, and critical involvement requires critical partisan loyalty.
Article
A key characteristic of democratic politics is competition between groups, first of all political parties. Yet, the unavoidably partisan nature of political conflict has had too little influence on scholarship on political psychology. Despite more than 50 years of research on political parties and citizens, we continue to lack a systematic understanding of when and how political parties influence public opinion. We suggest that alternative approaches to political parties and public opinion can be best reconciled and examined through a richer theoretical perspective grounded in motivated reasoning theory. Clearly, parties shape citizens' opinions by mobilizing, influencing, and structuring choices among political alternatives. But the answer to when and how parties influence citizens' reasoning and political opinions depends on an interaction between citizens' motivations, effort, and information generated from the political environment (particularly through competition between parties). The contribution of motivated reasoning, as we describe it, is to provide a coherent theoretical framework for understanding partisan influence on citizens' political opinions. We review recent empirical work consistent with this framework. We also point out puzzles ripe for future research and discuss how partisan‐motivated reasoning provides a useful point of departure for such work.
Article
Partisans often perceive real world conditions in a manner that credits their own party. Yet recent findings suggest that partisans are capable of setting their loyalties aside when confronted with clear evidence, for example, during an economic crisis. This study examines a different possibility. While partisans may acknowledge the same reality, they may find other ways of aligning undeniable realities with their party loyalties. Using monthly survey data collected before and after the unexpected collapse of the British national economy (2004-10), this study presents one key finding: As partisans came to agree that economic conditions had gotten much worse, they conversely polarized in whether they thought the government was responsible. While the most committed partisans were surprisingly apt in acknowledging the economic collapse, they were also the most eager to attribute responsibility selectively. For that substantial share of the electorate, partisan-motivated reasoning seems highly adaptive.
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Recent studies suggest psychological differences between conservatives and liberals, including that conservatives are more overconfident. We use a behavioral political economy model to show that while this is undoubtedly true for election years in the current era, there is no reason to believe that conservative ideologies are intrinsically linked to overconfidence. Indeed, it appears that in 1980 and before, conservatives and liberals were equally overconfident.
Article
About 1,450 voters in the 1993 mayorial election in Jerusalem made predictions about election outcomes and stated their preference for one of the two candidates. Strong wishful thinking effects were found, predictions varying in a linear trend as a function of the direction and intensity of preference. Half of the respondents were promised a substantial monetary reward if their predictions would be accurate (motivational remedy). Knowledge about the results of the most recent polls was tested, and the predictions made by accurate poll respondents (14.7 percent of the sample) were compared to those of non-accurate poll respondents (cognitive remedy). It was hypothesized that both remedies would reduce wishful thinking (i.e. reduce the differences in prediction among groups differing in preference). Significant interaction effects indicated that both remedies reduced wishful thinking somewhat. However, these effects were of very small magnitude compared to the high magnitude of the wishful thinking effects, and the overall intensity of wishful thinking remained unchanged. Differences between level of significance and effect magnitudes were discussed, focusing on implications for theoretical versus applied social research. It was also found that non-accurate poll respondents demonstrated a wishful thinking-like effect in their reported memory of the results of the polls, which were made public just one or two days previously.
Article
This paper studies, theoretically and empirically, the role of overconfidence in political behavior. Our model of overconfidence in beliefs predicts that overconfidence leads to ideological extremeness, increased voter turnout, and stronger partisan identification. The model also makes nuanced predictions about the patterns of ideology in society. These predictions are tested using unique data that measure the overconfidence and standard political characteristics of a nationwide sample of over 3,000 adults. Our numerous predictions find strong support in these data. In particular, we document that overconfidence is a substantively and statistically important predictor of ideological extremeness, voter turnout, and partisan identification.
Article
Participant attentiveness is a concern for many researchers using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk). While studies comparing the attentiveness of participants on MTurk vs traditional subject pool samples provided mixed support for this concern, attention check questions and other methods of ensuring participant attention have become prolific in MTurk studies. Because MTurk is a population that learns, we hypothesized that MTurkers would be more attentive to instructions than traditional subject pool samples. In three online studies, participants from MTurk and collegiate populations participated in a task that included a measure of attentiveness to instructions (an instructional manipulation check – IMC). In all studies, MTurkers were more attentive to instructions than college students, even on novel IMCs (studies 2 and 3), and MTurkers showed larger effects in response to a minute text manipulation. These results have implications for sustainable use of MTurk samples for social science research and the conclusions drawn from research with MTurk and college subject pool samples. Keywords: instructional manipulation checks, participant attentiveness, MTurk, college students
Article
People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of the participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Research in social cognition suggests that individuals employ a variety of cognitive strategies when processing information. Some of these strategies may function as cognitive heuristics, or simplifying rules of thumb, under certain information-processing conditions. In this article, I suggest that political party stereotypes can function heuristically for voters when they are confronted with political information-processing tasks. Two different cognitive strategies are outlined, a ''theory-driven'' and ''data-driven'' mode, and hypotheses about the use of these two strategies in political candidate evaluation, inference, and perception are developed. These are tested with an experimental design that uses videotapes of political candidates as stimulus material. I find that partisan stereotypes have considerable influence in political information processing, suggesting that the political parties continue to play an important role in voters' decision-making processes.
Article
When defined in terms of social identity and affect toward copartisans and opposing partisans, the polarization of the American electorate has dramatically increased. We document the scope and consequences of affective polarization of partisans using implicit, explicit, and behavioral indicators. Our evidence demonstrates that hostile feelings for the opposing party are ingrained or automatic in voters' minds, and that affective polarization based on party is just as strong as polarization based on race. We further show that party cues exert powerful effects on nonpolitical judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against opposing partisans, doing so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race. We note that the willingness of partisans to display open animus for opposing partisans can be attributed to the absence of norms governing the expression of negative sentiment and that increased partisan affect provides an incentive for elites to engage in confrontation rather than cooperation.
Article
Although widely studied, previous research of projection in the context of public opinion did not incorporate the distinction between adequate and false projection developed in the cognitive studies: Adequate projection contributes to accurate perceptions of public opinion while false projection impairs it. The analysis presented in this study includes the above distinction, building on two case studies: (1) a dataset comprised of 25 surveys conducted over a period of 10 years (N = 11,313) and (2) a panel study of the 2013 Israeli general election. Relying on the assumptions of the Bayesian model, we tested if frequent news exposure and factual political knowledge reduce false projection. We found that false projection is a highly persistent psychological tendency with little variance. Although news exposure and political knowledge did contribute to a more accurate perception of public opinion, they did not reduce false projection. Conversely, knowledge increased false projection among moderates and had no effect in this respect among proponents of a more extreme ideology. These findings align better with the motivated reasoning model than with the Bayesian model.
Article
Good survey and experimental research requires subjects to pay attention to questions and treatments, but many subjects do not. In this article, we discuss “Screeners” as a potential solution to this problem. We first demonstrate Screeners’ power to reveal inattentive respondents and reduce noise. We then examine important but understudied questions about Screeners. We show that using a single Screener is not the most effective way to improve data quality. Instead, we recommend using multiple items to measure attention. We also show that Screener passage correlates with politically relevant characteristics, which limits the generalizability of studies that exclude failers. We conclude that attention is best measured using multiple Screener questions and that studies using Screeners can balance the goals of internal and external validity by presenting results conditional on different levels of attention.
Article
Research on American mass behavior finds that party identifiers discount policy-relevant facts and interpret the same facts differently. Both findings imply enduring differences in the opinions that direct policy change. What this research does not consider, however, is that partisans confront the burden of evidence when they interpret facts about policy conditions. And thus, because policy-relevant evidence is always changing, the information environment could facilitate or inhibit partisan-directed rationalization. Employing national survey data and a Bayesian multilevel model, this study tests whether the distribution of economic facts moderates partisan disagreement about the U.S. economy. The results indicate that, when economic facts move in the positive and negative direction simultaneously, disagreement about the economy grows. When these facts move in one direction, however, disagreement recedes. In general, this study contributes theory and evidence on the tides of disagreement in partisan public opinion.
Article
In our increasingly diverse society, most Americans identify with more than one group. These multiple identities often align with conflicting policy choices, such as when a Democratic parent may support increased social services spending from a partisan perspective but may also worry about the increasing national debt as a parent. Given the significance of identity, political elites often work to prime identities that will win over the most supporters. A large literature documents the substantial role such identity priming can play in shaping preferences, but virtually no work considers the reality that identity primes often compete with one another. That is, different groups simultaneously prime different identities that align with their interests. In this article, I explore what makes one identity prime more effective than another. I do so by offering a theory of what types of rhetoric makes for a stronger identity prime (relative to other types of rhetoric). I test my expectations with a unique survey experiment addressing three issues. I find that, in a competitive setting, certain rhetorical techniques dominate and drive the identities people rely on when forming preferences. The results have implications for public opinion and identity in the ever-changing demographic world in which we live.
Article
Previous work on the Dunning–Kruger effect has shown that poor performers often show little insight into the shortcomings in their performance, presumably because they suffer a double curse. Deficits in their knowledge prevent them from both producing correct responses and recognizing that the responses they produce are inferior to those produced by others. Krajč and Ortmann (2008) offered a different account, suggesting instead that poor performers make performance estimates with no more error than top performers. Floor effects, coupled with the assumption of a backwards-J performance distribution, force their self-evaluations errors to be frequently positive in nature. Krajč and Ortmann, however, offered no empirical data to test their “signal extraction” account. In three studies, we assessed their theoretical model by examining whether (1) the data producing the Dunning–Kruger effect fit the statistical assumptions considered by Krajč and Ortmann necessary to produce it, and (2) to see if their framework reproduced Dunning–Kruger errors in a data set that fit their statistical assumptions. We found that the Krajč–Ortmann framework failed to anticipate self-evaluative misperceptions on the part of poor performers, but that it does much better at accounting for misperceptions among top performers. Paradoxically, the model suggests that Kruger and Dunning (1999) may have underestimated the accuracy of top performers, even though their account asserts such accuracy.
Article
Political parties play a vital role in democracies by linking citizens to their representatives. Nonetheless, a longstanding concern is that partisan identification slants decision-making. Citizens may support (oppose) policies that they would otherwise oppose (support) in the absence of an endorsement from a political party—this is due in large part to what is called partisan motivated reasoning where individuals interpret information through the lens of their party commitment. We explore partisan motivated reasoning in a survey experiment focusing on support for an energy law. We identify two politically relevant factors that condition partisan motivated reasoning: (1) an explicit inducement to form an “accurate” opinion, and (2) cross-partisan, but not consensus, bipartisan support for the law. We further provide evidence of how partisan motivated reasoning works psychologically and affects opinion strength. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for understanding opinion formation and the overall quality of citizens’ opinions.
Article
The cognitive mediation model of learning from the news proposes that motivations for news use influence the processing to which the news information is put, and that this processing is the proximal determinant of learning. The role of motivations in learning from the news, then, is indirect through information processing. Secondary analysis of data indicate substantial support for the model. The relationship between motivations and knowledge was reduced by the introduction of the mediating cognitive variables, news attention, and news elaboration. Both attention and elaboration were significantly related to knowledge, even after controlling all other variables in the model.
Article
Experimental economics and social psychology share an interest in a widening subset of topics, relying on similar lab-based methods to address similar questions about human behavior, yet dialogue between the two fields remains in its infancy. We propose a framework for understanding this disconnect: The different approaches the disciplines take to translating real-world behavior into the laboratory create a “gap in abstraction,” which contributes to crucial differences in philosophy about the roles of deception and incentives in experiments and limits cross-pollination. We review two areas of common interest—altruism and group-based discrimination—which demonstrate this gap yet also reveal ways in which the two approaches might be seen as complementary rather than contradictory.
Article
Men tend to achieve higher response accuracy than women on surveys of political knowledge. We investigated the possibility that this performance gap is moderated by factors that render the communicative context of a survey intellectually threatening to women and thereby induce stereotype threat. In a telephone survey of college students' political knowledge, we manipulated two factors of the survey context: the alleged diagnosticity of the question set (i.e., whether it was portrayed as being sensitive to potential gender differences) and the gender of the interviewer. Consistent with previous studies of political knowledge, men scored higher than women overall. However, as predicted, this difference was reliably moderated by the manipulated factors. Women's scores were not reliably different from men's when the survey was portrayed as nondiagnostic and when women were interviewed by female interviewers. Diagnosticity and interviewer gender had no effects on men's scores. Consistent with previous research on stereotype threat, these results suggest that explicit and implicit cues reminding women of the possibility that they might confirm a negative gender stereotype can impair their retrieval of political knowledge.
Article
One of the most curious aspects of the 2004 presidential election was the strength and resilience of the belief among many Americans that Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Scholars have suggested that this belief was the result of a campaign of false information and innuendo from the Bush administration. We call this the information environment explanation. Using a technique of “challenge interviews” on a sample of voters who reported believing in a link between Saddam and 9/11, we propose instead a social psychological explanation for the belief in this link. We identify a number of social psychological mechanisms voters use to maintain false beliefs in the face of disconfirming information, and we show that for a subset of voters the main reason to believe in the link was that it made sense of the administration's decision to go to war against Iraq. We call this inferred justification: for these voters, the fact of the war led to a search for a justification for it, which led them to infer the existence of ties between Iraq and 9/11.
Research from numerous corners of psychological inquiry suggests that self-assessments of skill and character are often flawed in substantive and systematic ways. We review empirical findings on the imperfect nature of self-assessment and discuss implications for three real-world domains: health, education, and the workplace. In general, people's self-views hold only a tenuous to modest relationship with their actual behavior and performance. The correlation between self-ratings of skill and actual performance in many domains is moderate to meager—indeed, at times, other people's predictions of a person's outcomes prove more accurate than that person's self-predictions. In addition, people overrate themselves. On average, people say that they are “above average” in skill (a conclusion that defies statistical possibility), overestimate the likelihood that they will engage in desirable behaviors and achieve favorable outcomes, furnish overly optimistic estimates of when they will complete future projects, and reach judgments with too much confidence. Several psychological processes conspire to produce flawed self-assessments. Research focusing on health echoes these findings. People are unrealistically optimistic about their own health risks compared with those of other people. They also overestimate how distinctive their opinions and preferences (e.g., discomfort with alcohol) are among their peers—a misperception that can have a deleterious impact on their health. Unable to anticipate how they would respond to emotion-laden situations, they mispredict the preferences of patients when asked to step in and make treatment decisions for them. Guided by mistaken but seemingly plausible theories of health and disease, people misdiagnose themselves—a phenomenon that can have severe consequences for their health and longevity. Similarly, research in education finds that students' assessments of their performance tend to agree only moderately with those of their teachers and mentors. Students seem largely unable to assess how well or poorly they have comprehended material they have just read. They also tend to be overconfident in newly learned skills, at times because the common educational practice of massed training appears to promote rapid acquisition of skill—as well as self-confidence—but not necessarily the retention of skill. Several interventions, however, can be introduced to prompt students to evaluate their skill and learning more accurately. In the workplace, flawed self-assessments arise all the way up the corporate ladder. Employees tend to overestimate their skill, making it difficult to give meaningful feedback. CEOs also display overconfidence in their judgments, particularly when stepping into new markets or novel projects—for example, proposing acquisitions that hurt, rather then help, the price of their company's stock. We discuss several interventions aimed at circumventing the consequences of such flawed assessments; these include training people to routinely make cognitive repairs correcting for biased self-assessments and requiring people to justify their decisions in front of their peers. The act of self-assessment is an intrinsically difficult task, and we enumerate several obstacles that prevent people from reaching truthful self-impressions. We also propose that researchers and practitioners should recognize self-assessment as a coherent and unified area of study spanning many subdisciplines of psychology and beyond. Finally, we suggest that policymakers and other people who makes real-world assessments should be wary of self-assessments of skill, expertise, and knowledge, and should consider ways of repairing self-assessments that may be flawed.
Article
The behavior and attitude of the voters in the 1952 election are examined in terms of three independent variables established for this study: party identification, candidate orientation, and issue orientation. Within this framework, the analysis has been organized to test two hypotheses: (a) the motivation of political behavior is effective in direct relation to the number of congruent forces that motivate the individual; and (b) that the effectiveness of these motivating forces is reduced if there is conflict among them. The concepts and categories of this analysis are applied to show significant similarities and contrasts with the 1948 election, and extended to other electoral decisions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Optimal jurisdiction size is a cornerstone of government design. A strong tradition in political thought argues that democracy thrives in smaller jurisdictions, but existing studies of the effects of jurisdiction size, mostly cross-sectional in nature, yield ambiguous results due to sorting effects and problems of endogeneity. We focus on internal political efficacy, a psychological condition that many see as necessary for high-quality participatory democracy. We identify a quasiexperiment, a large-scale municipal reform in Denmark, which allows us to estimate a causal effect of jurisdiction size on internal political efficacy. The reform, affecting some municipalities, but not all, was implemented by the central government, and resulted in exogenous, and substantial, changes in municipal population size. Based on survey data collected before and after the reform, we find, using various difference-in-difference and matching estimators, that jurisdiction size has a causal and sizeable detrimental effect on citizens' internal political efficacy.
Article
Scholars have found source cues—the political actors behind a policy issue—to be a potent cause of opinion change. The implication is an easily persuaded public. I advance the argument that the public is not so easily persuaded. A policy featuring group beneficiaries provides a highly informative cue, one that is likely to dominate source cues. This insight is based on research demonstrating that people ignore source cues if they engage the subject matter at hand. Using a variety of experiments, I find that group beneficiary cues often dominate source cues. However, I also find that source cues affect opinion if they provide unexpected information about (1) an endorsement that is contrary to the source’s beliefs or (2) feature an extreme, disliked outgroup.
Article
A considerable body of data suggests that men know more about politics than do women. Although gender gaps exist in other aspects of political behavior, the unusual magnitude of the gender gap makes it particularly perplexing. In this paper, we advance and test the hypothesis that the knowledge gap is partly an artifact of how knowledge is measured. If men are disproportionately more likely to guess than are women, then observed gender disparities in knowledge will be artificially inflated. To test this hypothesis, we reexamine data used in two recent inquiries concerning the gender gap in knowledge, along with experimental data from the 1998 NES Pilot Study. All analyses point to a common conclusion: approximately 50% of the gender gap is illusory, reflecting response patterns that work to the collective advantage of male respondents.
Article
In this study, we examine the influence of discussion frequency, network size, and 3 variables that together entangle the often misunderstood concept of network heterogeneity: discussion frequency with like-minded individuals (“safe” discussion), discussion frequency with nonlike-minded individuals (“dangerous” discussion), and diversity of discussion based on the proportion of safe and dangerous discussion. Data were gathered via a postelection random-digit dial telephone survey of residents of a battleground state (N = 600) in November 2004. Three central dependent variables were measured: factual political knowledge, political knowledge structure density, and political participation. The results support the argument that different aspects of political discussion have different implications for different democratic outcomes-and that different conceptualizations and measures of discussion “heterogeneity” produce different results.
Article
Social Capital is created through the patterns of interdependence andsocial interaction that occur within a population, and we attempt to understand the participatory consequences of these patterns relative to the effects of human capital and organizational involvement. The production of social capital in personal networks was examined with the use of social network and participation data from the 1992 American study of the Cross National Election Project. The results suggest that politically relevant social capital (that is, social capital that facilitates political engagement) is generated in personal networks, that it is a by-product of the social interactions with a citizen's discussants, and that increasing levels of politically relevant social capital enhance the likelihood that a citizen will be engaged in politics. Further, the production of politically relevant social capital is a function of the political expertise within an individual's network of relations, the frequency of political interaction within the network, and the size or extensiveness of the network. These results are sustained even while taking account of a person's individual characteristics and organizational involvement. Hence, the consequences of social relations within networks are not readily explained away on the basis of either human capital effects or the effects of organizational engagement.