September 4, 2013 * Lunch will be provided
Note: This presentation begins at 11:30 a.m.
Many scholars and journalists use responses to short lists of "political knowledge" (PK) questions on surveys to make general claims about what the public knows. A common claim of this type is that citizens are generally ignorant or incompetent. When making this claim, scholars and other writers assume that citizens’ inabilities to answer a few PK questions on a given survey accurately represent greater inadequacies.
This presentation will examine the validity of such claims. We will explore the extent to which common claims about political ignorance and incompetence are based on accurate assumptions about the quality of commonly used PK measures and their relationship to broader kinds of knowledge and competence about many writers are concerned. We will discover that many claims about political ignorance and civic incompetence are based on a misunderstanding of what PK questions actually measure. So, when I ask us to evaluate the proposition that "Political knowledge is less than we thought it was," I am asking us to be honest about whether widely-used PK measures truly have commonly-assumed properties. In each case where we discover such errors, I will show how to draw more accurate claims about knowledge and competence from the same data. In most cases, we will discover that the most accurate inferences we can draw from existing PK data about ignorance and competence more generally considered are very different than the claims that most writers currently make.
September 11, 2013
In the midst of a large and widening gap between the poor and the rich in the United States, many scholars and political observers argue that Americans are tolerant of economic inequality. I challenge this contention. First I show that the evidence base for this conventional understanding of American reactions to economic inequality is weak; for example, some scholars rely on complicated survey questions about abstract concepts that Americans rarely use. Next, I show that on balance, Americans believe the poor to have too little, and accordingly view them with sympathy; the rich, meanwhile, are viewed to have too much, and are therefore targets of resentment. Finally, I find that Americans seek to reward candidates who help the poor, and punish candidates who help the rich, in the voting booth. Taken together, these results show that contrary to many accounts, Americans are opposed to increasing economic inequality, and they attempt to mitigate economic inequality when selecting candidates for public office.
September 18, 2013
Over the last twenty years experimentation has become an increasingly common method of answering questions in political science. Many experimental researchers utilize deception on a regular basis. Others never use it. It is viewed as a routine and necessary part of research in psychology; but, it is discouraged and at times expressly forbidden in economics. While political science has seen an explosion of experimental research, its strong ties to both economics and psychology leave many political scientists ambivalent about the use of deception. Disciplinary differences stem primarily from instrumental concerns about the necessity of deception and its implications for subject trust and reaching valid research conclusions. Is deception deleterious? Despite the starkly divergent norms, little work has systematically examined whether being deceived in an experiment affects subsequent behavior. The few studies undertaken have led to conflicting conclusions.
We theorize about and investigate the conditions under which revelations of deception in one study affect future subject behavior in experimental settings. We present results from two experimental studies designed to test how a subject’s awareness that she was deceived in one experiment affects her behavior in subsequent experiments. Deception can alter the behavior of subjects, but its likelihood of doing so is highly conditional. This research provides a stronger empirical foundation for understanding the consequences of deception in experimental research, developing strategies for mitigating any negative effects, and informing best practices and norms within and across multiple disciplines.
September 25, 2013
Individual’s political beliefs can be knowledge-based, or they can be the result of attributes such as partisanship, ideology, or specific media use patterns. In this project, we look at a set of beliefs associated with the candidates and an event in the 2012 presidential election that could be viewed as linked to political knowledge, attention to specific media or media-related behavior patterns, and group identification. The relationships are different for different beliefs, and they are sometimes tempered by attitudes toward Barack Obama as seen through a racial and political lens in theoretically appropriate ways. The analysis is conducted among major racial and ethnic groups in the population.
October 2, 2013
How accurately do election polls report individual voting preferences? Can election polls help us detect and possibly deter election fraud in authoritarian regimes? This talk will focus on theoretical aspects and effects of social desirability bias on election fraud in authoritarian regimes. Using data from survey experiments conducted before and after Russia’s 2012 presidential election and the results of alternative techniques used by a national pollster, I will demonstrate the presence of significant social desirability effects in Russian public opinion polls that inflated both electoral ratings of Vladimir Putin and voter turnout. In turn, these findings raise issues about the quality of survey research in authoritarian regimes and the possible interconnection of social desirability effects and election fraud.
October 9, 2013
Timothy Ryan Paper
Evolutionary, neuroscientific, and cognitive perspectives in psychology have converged on the idea that some attitudes are moralized—a distinctive characteristic. Moralized attitudes reorient behavior from maximizing gains to adhering to rules. Here, I examine a political consequence of this tendency. In four studies drawing data from a variety of sources, I measure attitude moralization and examine how it relates to approval of political compromise. I find that moralized attitudes lead citizens to oppose compromises, punish compromising politicians, and even pay a monetary cost to obstruct political opponents’ gain. These patterns emerge on social and economic issues alike and have implications for understanding political polarization.
November 6, 2013
What determines the content of international norms? Domestic politics shapes how national leaders view international politics, and so influences what norms can be sustained over time. Norms whose content matches leaders' incentives from domestic politics are easier to sustain because they help leaders retain power. National leaders can also benefit by adopting norms that reflect their domestic politics, enhancing their stability in power. International norms rest on foundations from the domestic politics of states.
Change concerning two norms—non-intervention and territorial stability—exemplify this process. The growth of the size of the winning coalition through the spread of constitutional government and mass democracy induces leaders to shift their war aims away from territorial expansion and towards other policy aims. The latter create a commitment problem, which can be solved by overthrowing the regime of the losing side. These changes in domestic politics have led to the shift away from the norm of non-intervention and its replacement by territorial integrity. Additionally, this change in norms has helped stabilize international politics, where international norms reinforce those domestic incentives.
I test this argument by examining the war aims of states in militarized interstate disputes. Whether states pursue territorial aims or seek to overthrow enemy regimes depends on both the selection institutions of the state and major international treaties seek to create a norm of non-intervention or territorial integrity. Using both the UN Charter and the Covenant of the League of Nations as dates for the change in norms, non-intervention is honored by states with small winning coalitions before the break point, while territorial integrity is honored by those with large winning coalitions afterwards.
November 20, 2013
This analysis examines the factors that influence student acceptance of parent partisanship, utilizing Jennings and Niemi’s 1965 political socialization panel study and Miller’s 1987 Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY). The last several decades of literature on the transmission of partisanship from parent to child has focused primarily on family and psychological variables, which have demonstrated significant effects in numerous analyses. This analysis utilizes the same family and psychological variables, but examines whether the political climate of a young person’s community influences the rate at which high school students adopt the partisanship of their parents. The results from these two longitudinal studies – one generation apart – demonstrate the community political climate does provide an additional amount of explanation of student acceptance of parent partisanship. A set of structural equation models are used to test this proposition.
January 8, 2014
January 15, 2014
January 22, 2014
Tali Mendelberg (Princeton University)
January 29, 2014
Pauline Jones Luong
February 5, 2014
February 12, 2014
February 19, 2014
February 26, 2014
March 12, 2014
March 19, 2014
Karen Jusko (Stanford University)
March 26, 2014
April 9, 2014
April 16, 2014
Victor Ottati (Loyola University)
April 23, 2014
Adam Levine (Cornell University) and Yanna Krupnikow (Northwestern University)
April 30, 2014
May 7, 2014
May 14, 2014
May 21, 2014