Women in developed countries such as the U.S. generally prefer more protectionist trade policies than men, an empirical finding at odds with trade’s negative impact on more male dominated industries, such as manufacturing (Anker 1998). Empirical analysis controlling for job-selection and wage concerns does little to close the gap. Instead, we consider how concerns about employment volatility might disproportionately effect women than men. What we found was that among individuals theoretically expected to be harmed by trade in developed countries – those without college degrees or those in import-competing industries – our volatility treatment dramatically decreased women’s support for trade while somewhat increasing men’s support for trade.
Women are significantly less politically engaged than men at both the mass and elite levels. More recent scholarship has found that structural factors and standard predictors of political behavior no longer sufficiently explain this persistent gap in engagement. In the present study, I take a novel approach to exploring the discrepancy in men and women’s political engagement and participation. I ask: Does self-objectification, the internalization of observer’s perspectives of our physical bodies, undermine political engagement and in part, drive the gender gap in engagement? I argue that the cognitive, motivational, and affective correlates of self-objectification work to decrease political engagement and participation. I conduct two separate survey studies on diverse populations. Overall, I find a negative association between trait self-objectification and political engagement. These findings highlight the relevance of objectification and its cognitive and psychological correlates to the study of political engagement.
About a decade ago, a study documented that conservatives have stronger physiological responses to threatening stimuli than liberals. This work launched an approach aimed at uncovering the biological roots of ideology. Despite wide-ranging scientific and popular impact, independent laboratories have not replicated the study. We conducted a pre-registered direct replication (n = 202) and conceptual replications in the United States (n = 352) and the Netherlands (n = 81). Our analyses do not support the conclusions of the original study, nor do we find evidence for broader claims regarding the effect of disgust and the existence of a physiological trait. Rather than studying unconscious responses as the real predispositions, alignment between conscious and unconscious responses promises deeper insights into the emotional roots of ideology.
My interest in biopolitics took a circuitous route. My guiding interest in studying politics is the study of democratic representation. Democracy is a special institution. It holds out the hope that we can resolve our differences in a peaceful way by letting the governed govern themselves. As a graduate student, I was immediately taken by Anthony Down’s (1957) theory of democracy. It just made so much sense. People hold preferences that are ordered and coherent. They derive utility from outcomes. Government policy should, therefore, reflect the distribution of policy preferences that maximizes the utility of the most people. Easy peasy, right? It turns out that it isn’t so easy. When we get into the nitty gritty of how people actually make decisions, we find a lot of strange things. …. So, what can delving into biology teach us about attitude formation and behavior?
During the 2016 election cycle, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders received roars of approval from supporters when discussing plans to roll back decades of trade liberalization and more specifically North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the past, protectionist politicians who failed to follow through on promises paid little electoral cost, arguably because NAFTA received relatively little media or political attention after it was passed. Now in the spotlight, could trade policies cost President Trump voters in 2020? I argue that the highly partisan nature of today’s trade discourse – a new dimension for trade opinion – creates obstacles for electoral accountability because prefer- ences follow rather than drive partisanship. Drawing on previous research and a 2017 survey experiment fielded before and after Trump’s trip to China, I show that the ability of trade messaging to cross party lines has weakened and that Trump’s followers strongly react to information cues from Trump but fail to react to information based accusations of flip flopping on his most prominent trade related promise: increased protection against China. The ability of politicians to shape preferences rather than respond to the will of constituents calls into question the electoral connection on critical government policies even when they become salient.
A multitude of laboratory experiments show that subtle shifts in framing can induce individuals to participate in political activity. Using four randomized field experiments, we tested whether exposure to messages framing public policy proposals negatively increased political action relative to exposure to messages framing the proposal positively. Three experiments use a type of political participation novel to the field experiments literature: phone calls recruiting people to contact elected officials. Contrary to expectations from prior laboratory experiments on intention to participate in collective action in politics, we find scant evidence that messages framed negatively about the policy returns from participation are more effective than messages framed positively about the policy returns from participation at motivating real-world political behavior.
The convergence of sports and celebrity can have a powerful influence on everyday politics, especially for groups underrepresented in mainstream American society. This article examines the relationship between race, celebrity, and social movements, specifically Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police violence and whether his activism mobilizes black Americans to political action. Using the 2017 Black Voter Project (BVP) Pilot Study, we explore African American political engagement in the 2016 election, a time devoid of President Obama as a mobilizing figure. We find African Americans who strongly approve of Kaepernick’s protest engage in politics at elevated rates, even after accounting for alternative explanations. Moreover, approval for Kaepernick also moderates other forces rooted in group identity, such as identification with the Black Lives Matter movement. In the end, Kaepernick and the protest movement he leads offers a powerful mobilizing force for African Americans.
Elections are designed to give voters the ability to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. For this to work, voters must be presented with credible alternatives from which to choose. In the United States, as in other weak‐party systems, the decision to challenge an incumbent representative rests with individual, strategic‐minded politicians who carefully weigh the available information. We investigate the role that one source of information—partisan media—plays in shaping electoral competition. We hypothesize that the haphazard expansion of the conservative Fox News Channel in the decade after its 1996 launch influenced congressional elections by affecting the decision calculus of high‐quality potential candidates. Using congressional district‐level data on the local availability of Fox News, we find that Fox News altered Republican potential candidates’ perceptions about the vulnerability of Democratic incumbents, thereby changing their entry patterns.
Recent research suggests that psychological needs can influence the political attitudes of ordinary citizens, often outside of their conscious awareness. In this paper, we investigate whether psychological needs also shape the spending priorities of political elites in the US. Most models of policymaking assume that political elites respond to information in relatively homogeneous ways. We suggest otherwise, and explore one source of difference in information processing, namely, threat sensitivity, which previous research links to increased support for conservative policy attitudes. Drawing on a sample of state-level policymakers, we measure their spending priorities using a survey and their level of threat sensitivity using a standard psychophysiological measure (skin conductance). We find that, like ordinary citizens, threat sensitivity leads even state-level policymakers to prioritize spending on government policies that are designed to minimize threats.
Has the introduction of social media into the information landscape changed the heuristics individuals use when selecting news? Social media allow users to easily share and endorse political content. These features facilitate personal influence, possibly increasing the salience of partisan information, making users more likely to read endorsed content. To test this possibility, I utilize snowball sampling to conduct a survey experiment featuring mock Facebook News Feeds. These feeds contain different levels of social media activity attributed to different sources, varying from fictional individuals to subjects’ own friends and family members. I find that online endorsements and discussions serve as heuristics when deciding which content to consume, outweighing partisan selectivity. This effect is only significant when the activity comes from friends or family members, as social influence attributed to fictional individuals has no effect on information selectivity.