Friday, November 15, 2019

Europe: Height is positively associated with leadership for women, no effect for men; for women, absolute and relative height are about equally strong

About the Relation between Height and Leadership: Evidence from Europe. Felix Bittmann. Economics & Human Biology, November 15 2019, 100829.

•    The study investigate the association between height and leadership in Europe.
•    Height is positively associated with leadership for women.
•    There is no effect for men when controlling for education and occupational position.
•    For women, absolute and relative height are about equally strong.

Abstract: To better explicate the well-researched finding that taller individuals have higher wages on average, potential mechanisms should be studied in detail. The present analysis investigates the relationship between height and the probability of being in a leadership position in the workplace using multinational European Social Survey data from 19 countries. Studying full-time, employed individuals between 20 and 55 years of age reveals considerable country differences which is beneficial for the estimated multilevel models as variation is increased.

The results indicate a statistically significant effect whereby women are 0.15 percentage points more likely to be in a leadership position for each additional centimetre of absolute height when controlling for education and occupational position whereas there is no effect for men.

In order to study the relevance of absolute vs relative height, which is the difference to the local peer-group, regional data is utilized. The main findings are that there is no effect of relative height for men but a statistically significant effect for women. For them, absolute and relative effects are about equally strong.

Believers are more likely to justify their own passive immorality, & to commit everyday acts of passive immorality such as parking across multiple spaces & keeping overdue library books

When a good god makes bad people: Testing a theory of religion and immorality. Jackson, Joshua Conrad Gray, Kurt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Nov 2019.

Abstract: When might religious belief lower ethical standards? We propose a theory of religion and immorality that makes 3 central predictions. First, people will judge immoral acts as more permissible when they make divine attributions for these acts, seeing them as enabled by an intervening God. Second, people will be more likely to make divine attributions when evaluating passive immorality (e.g., keeping a lost wallet) than active immorality (e.g., pick-pocketing) because human action makes people less likely to infer God’s agency. Third, believers will be more likely than nonbelievers to perpetrate passive immorality, because they feel justified taking advantage of God’s beneficence. Thirteen studies support these predictions. Our findings show that people who attribute events to God judge morally questionable behaviors more leniently (Study 1), American states with more prayer groups have higher rates of crime (Study 2), and experimentally manipulated divine attributions lead people to see selfish and harmful behavior as less immoral (Study 3). Divine attributions—and corresponding moral permissibility—are more likely with passive immorality than with active immorality (Studies 4–7). Compared with nonbelievers, believers are more likely to justify their own passive immorality (Study 8), and to commit everyday acts of passive immorality such as parking across multiple spaces (Study 9) and keeping overdue library books (Study 10). A novel behavioral economics task reveals that although passive immorality is not affected by religious priming, it does correlate with self-reported religious belief (Studies 11–13). Finally, an internal meta-analysis supports our predictions.

General Discussion

Does God make you good, or does He help you justify immorality? We suggest that both alternatives are true, and that the link between religion and morality is more complex than once thought. Properties of religious belief such as supernatural monitoring and punishment may encourage prosociality (Johnson, 2005; Norenzayan & Shariff, 2008), but beliefs in divine intervention seem to encourage the rationalization of immorality, especially in cases of passive immorality when human agency is absent. The present research provides support for this idea, revealing that global religious belief has little zero-order association with moral judgment. Instead, divine attributions increase moral permissiveness, whereas global religious belief predicts stricter moral judgments once variance associated with divine attributions has been removed.

Thirteen studies—and an internal meta-analysis—reveal evidence supporting three key predictions. Our first prediction was that people who make divine attributions for immoral acts see them as more permissible (Studies 1–3). Study 1 used self-report measures to show that divine attributions predict permissive moral judgment, whereas global religious belief predict stricter moral judgments once variance associated with divine attributions has been removed. Study 2 found that prayer group membership—a group-level proxy for divine attributions—positively predicts statewide crime rates whereas religious belief negatively but nonsignificantly predicts crime. Study 3 replicated the correlational link between divine attributions and moral permissibility with an experimental manipulation of divine attributions.

Our second prediction was that divine attributions for immorality should be most common in cases of passive immorality—when human agency is ambiguous— because these situations encourage people to infer God’s agency (Studies 4 –7). Studies 4 and 5 revealed that passive (vs. active) immorality predicts divine attributions, which are linked to seeing other people’s transgressions as more morally permissible. Study 6 showed that this effect is strongest when God’s agency is salient via prayer, and Study 7 showed that the active-passive divide cannot be explained by differences in act severity.

Our third prediction was that, because believers can make divine attributions for passive immorality, they should be more likely than nonbelievers to perpetrate these acts (Studies 8 –10). Study 8 found that believers are more likely to justify their past passive immorality compared with nonbelievers, an effect that is mediated by divine attributions. Studies 9 and 10 showed that religion is linked to two forms of real-world passive immorality: failing to correct bad parking (Study 9) and failing to return overdue library books (Study 10). Studies 11–13 also showed that religious belief predicts more passive immorality in a novel economic game, though these effects were not impacted by religious priming.

Narcissism & Machiavellianism were positive predictors of task performance; psychopathy & sadism were negative predictors; narcissism was positively related to contextual performance

Bad guys perform better? The incremental predictive validity of the Dark Tetrad over Big Five and Honesty-Humility. Elena Fernández-del-Río, Pedro J. Ramos-Villagrasa, Juan Ramón Barrada. Personality and Individual Differences, November 15 2019, 109700.

• Dark Tetrad has incremental effects over Big Five and Honesty-Humility.
• Narcissism and Machiavellianism were positive predictors of task performance.
• Psychopathy and sadism were negative predictors of task performance.
• Narcissism was positively related to contextual performance.
• Sadism was positively related to counterproductive work behavior.

Abstract: This study analyzed incremental effects of the Dark Tetrad traits (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, sadism) on job performance dimensions (i.e., task performance, contextual performance, counterproductive work behavior) over the Big Five and Honesty-Humility. Using a multi-occupational sample of 613 employees, results revealed positive outcomes depending on the specific Dark Tetrad trait analyzed. After including sociodemographic and work-related variables, Big Five, and Honesty-Humility, narcissism and Machiavellianism were positively related to task performance, whereas psychopathy and sadism were negative predictors. Narcissism was also a positive predictor of contextual performance, while sadism was positively related to counterproductive work behavior. These results show that the Dark Tetrad is useful in its own right and incrementally above normal-range personality measures.

Keywords: NarcissismMachiavellianismPsychopathySadismBig FiveHonesty-HumilityJob performance

The tendency of political journalists to form insular groups/packs, chasing the same angles & quoting the same sources, is a well-known issue in journalism & has long been criticized for its role in groupthink & homogenous coverage

Exploring Political Journalism Homophily on Twitter: A Comparative Analysis of US and UK Elections in 2016 and 2017. Kelly Fincham. Media and Communication, Vol 7, No 1 (2019), March 21 2019.

Abstract: The tendency of political journalists to form insular groups or packs, chasing the same angles and quoting the same sources, is a well-documented issue in journalism studies and has long been criticized for its role in groupthink and homogenous news coverage. This groupthink attracted renewed criticism after the unexpected victory of Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election as the campaign coverage had indicated a likely win by the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. This pattern was repeated in the 2017 UK election when the Conservative party lost their majority after a campaign in which the news coverage had pointed to an overall Tory victory. Such groupthink is often attributed to homophily, the tendency of individuals to interact with those most like them, and while homophily in the legacy media system is well-studied, there is little research around homophily in the hybrid media system, even as social media platforms like Twitter facilitate the development—and analysis—of virtual political journalism packs. This study, which compares Twitter interactions among US and UK political reporters in the 2016 and 2017 national elections, shows that political journalists are overwhelmingly more likely to use Twitter to interact with other journalists, particularly political journalists, and that their offline tendencies to form homogenous networks have transferred online. There are some exceptions around factors such as gender, news organizations and types of news organization—and important distinctions between types of interactions—but overall the study provides evidence of sustained homophily as journalists continue to normalize Twitter.

Keywords  elections; groupthink; homophily; political journalism; Twitter, UK; US

6. Discussion
The results of this study point to significant homophily
throughout political journalists’ interaction networks
during the US and UK election campaigns, offering key insights
into the emergence of common Twitter practices
among political journalists in two of the “Liberal Media”
countries (Hallin & Mancini, 2004); and providing further
evidence of the continuing normalization of Twitter in
the hybrid media environment. The results show that
political journalists in both the US and the UK are significantly
more likely to engage with other political journalists
during election campaigns and that the extent of
such homophily can be affected by factors like news organization,
types of news organization (print; broadcast;
digital or wire) and gender. However, while the findings
point to overall homophily there are some marked differences
between the two countries and between the two
types of interactions as discussed below.
To answer the first two research questions, the study
shows a pronounced degree of homophily in both countries
in retweets and replies with higher rates of homophily
in retweets. While the US journalists are more
likely to be more homophilous overall, the political reporters
in both countries formed distinct journalismcentered
bubbles—with political journalists the single
largest group—and “other” non-journalism voices significantly
marginalized. Taking retweets first, the US political
journalists paid more attention to other political
reporters than their UK counterparts with 82 percent
against 64 percent. However, the political reporters in
both countries retweeted very high percentages of journalists
overall with 93 percent in the US and 84 percent
in the UK. The difference in types of journalists and the
higher UK retweeting rates of non-journalist accounts
(16 percent to 7 percent in the US) could be attributed to
the suicide bombing in Manchester during the UK election
campaign which caused 23 deaths and led to the
24-hour suspension of the campaign. While content analysis
was beyond the scope of this article, examining the
content of the retweets would help in determining if the
difference around retweeted users could be explained by
the effect of this major news story which dominated the
news cycles for days in the UK. The findings on replies
may also have been impacted by the May 22 suicide
attack. The percentage of political-journalist-to-politicaljournalists
replies in both countries were roughly similar
(US: 70 percent; UK: 68 percent) which suggests some significant
similarities in the cross-national trend, but there
were also quite marked differences: UK reporters sent
more than three times the number of replies than the US
reporters and the higher number of replies were used to
engage with a higher percentage of non-journalists with
22 percent against 16.5 percent in the US. Again, content
analysis would be useful in understanding if the differences
are linked to a major news story that disrupted the
UK election campaign rather than emerging differences
in journalism practice in two similar media systems.
The second two research questions explored the degree
of homophily in retweets and replies across a set
of shared characteristics and found that news organization,
types of news organization (print, broadcast, digital
or wire) and gender play a role in the homophily observed
in both countries. The study shows similar patterns
in both countries, particularly around gender, with
significant levels of homophily in male political journalists’
interactions. While both male and female journalists
are more likely to use replies to interact with their
own gender; the effects are small to medium-sized for
females and more pronounced for males. The impact
of gender in retweets is striking with both male and female
political journalists in the UK and US more likely
to retweet male political journalists than female political
journalists. However, given that the amplification most
often benefits male political journalists, the gender findings,
while initially suggestive of homophily, may in fact
be more reflective of the political journalism gender inequities
highlighted by Usher et al. in 2018. Indeed, the
findings here almost exactly mirror those from Hanusch
and Nölleke (2018) whose work on Australian reporters
found only mild gender-based heterophily within female
retweet networks. The lack of gender diversity among
political journalists, particularly in the UK parliamentary
press lobby, has been highlighted in recent years (Tobitt,
2018) and these findings suggest that male political journalists’
voices are amplified by Twitter journalism engagement
practices in both countries.
Interestingly, the analysis of news organizations
showed political journalists in both countries were more
likely to retweet political journalists from outside their
organizations than inside, echoing Vergeer’s 2015 finding
that Dutch national news journalists were more likely
to connect with those outside their own news organizations.
While news organization was not seen as a major
factor in Twitter homophily, types of news organization
did emerge as a significant factor, in particular the US
broadcast sector and the UK newspaper sector, findings
which may point to a linkage between political bias and
Twitter homophily as these are the two media sectors
generally regarded as more politically biased than other
types of news organizations in their respective countries
(Hallin & Mancini, 2004).
Overall, homophily is clearly visible in the political
journalists’ sustained Twitter interactions as they repeatedly
train their attention on other political journalists in
retweets and replies and re-create their legacy pack networks
online. While homophily itself does not become
more, or less, apparent during election campaigns, these
time-frames were chosen to explore the most frequent
discussion partners chosen by political journalists during
a period when the public is paying more attention to politics
and to explore how journalists sort themselves into
the kinds of homophilous groups, or filter bubbles, which
can amplify the general consensus and shape the types
of news that develop (Carlson, 2017). Much is known
about homophily in legacy journalism practice but research
into similar behavior on Twitter has been slow to
emerge, even as studies have frequently pointed to high
rates of journalist-to-journalist interactions on Twitter.
The very speed with which journalists have adopted
Twitter and integrated it into their work routines may
have helped create the kinds of homophilous macro processes
revealed in this study, processes which are difficult
to detect or prevent at the individual journalist level
(Vergeer, 2015). Studies such as this can perhaps help educators
and newsrooms alike in creating more education
and awareness around engagement and interaction on
platforms like Twitter, which offer a myriad of opportunities
for journalists to interact with other information
sources, and thus avoiding the intra-journalistic activity
and pack journalism identified here.
The significant differences in gender warrant more research.
It is beyond the scope of this article to determine
whether or not the political journalists were deliberately
or inadvertently focusing on male political journalists, but
these interaction patterns deserve greater inquiry and the
findings again speak to the pressing need for increased education
around diversity in Twitter interactions.
Finally, while concerns have been raised around the
propensity of citizens to receive information via filter
bubbles on social media, the results of this study suggest
that perhaps more attention should be focused on
journalists rather than individuals as a journalist’s filter
bubble can have a far more powerful effect on the news
agenda. This tendency of political journalists to form
close-knit networks on Twitter is particularly worthy of
scrutiny as political journalists are essential in explaining
campaign policies and platforms and helping voters
understand the issues under discussion. Moreover, the
power to set the agenda remains concentrated with actors
who “enjoy power and visibility both on and off
Twitter,” (Siapera, Boudourides, Lenis, & Suiter, 2018)
and this study shows that political journalists, despite the
almost limitless opportunities to do otherwise, continue
to confer such power and visibility on other political journalists,
particularly male political journalists, as they remain
tethered, albeit virtually, to the journalism packs of
the legacy media era.

6.1. Limitations
While the results show that US and UK political journalists
restrict the range and diversity of voices chosen as
discussion partners, there are limitations to this study.
For example, while the journalists generated a sizeable
number of tweets the population size itself was kept relatively
small to allow for manual coding and analysis.
A larger population size could have explored these issues
in more detail, but this would have entailed more coders
and/or machine analysis. Content analysis would have
helped in exploring some of the issues, particularly the
cross-national difference observed in replies.

Check also Journalistic Homophily on Social Media: Exploring journalists’ interactions with each other on Twitter. Folker Hanusch & Daniel Nölleke. Digital Journalism,
Abstract: Journalists have for considerable time been criticized for living in their own bubbles, a phenomenon industry commentators have referred to as groupthink, while in scholarship the tendency of individuals to connect with people who are like them is termed homophily. This age-old process has come under scrutiny in recent times due to the arrival of social network sites, which have been viewed as both working against but also leading to more homophily. In journalism scholarship, these processes are still little understood, however. Focusing on the social network site Twitter and drawing on a large-scale analysis of more than 600,000 tweets sent by 2908 Australian journalists during one year, this study shows that journalists continue to live in bubbles in their online interactions with each other. Most journalists were more likely to interact with journalists who have the same gender, work in the same organization, on the same beat or in the same location. However, the study also demonstrates some notable exceptions as well as the importance of differentiating between types of interaction.

Keywords: homophily, interactions, journalist, social media, Twitter, groupthink, bubble

Conservatives do not generally form more negative attitudes than liberals; the cognitive processes underlying exploration of novel stimuli & attitude formation are similar for both, but these processes are evoked by different kinds of stimuli

Of deadly beans and risky stocks: Political ideology and attitude formation via exploration depend on the nature of the attitude stimuli. Michael Edem Fiagbenu, Jutta Proch, Thomas Kessler. British Journal of Psychology, November 14 2019.

Abstract: An attitude formation task examined how conservatives and liberals explore information about novel stimuli and form attitudes towards them. When framed as the BeanFest game, conservatives sampled fewer beans and exhibited a stronger learning asymmetry (i.e., better learning for negative than positive beans) than liberals. This has been taken as strong evidence that conservatives are more sensitive to negative stimuli than liberals. We argue that the learning asymmetry and sampling bias by conservatives is due to framing of the game. In addition to the BeanFest, we framed the game as StockFest (i.e., a stock market game) where participants learned about novel stocks. We replicated the pronounced learning asymmetry for conservatives in the BeanFest game, but found a pronounced learning asymmetry for liberals in the StockFest game. We suggest that conservatives and liberals are equally sensitive to negative stimuli but in different domains.

Statement of contribution
Shook and Fazio (2009, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 995–998) used a food foraging game called BeanFest to show that conservatives explore novel food/health environments more cautiously and consequently form more negative attitudes than liberals (i.e., learn and remember more negative than positive beans). This finding is taken as strong evidence that conservatives are generally more negatively biased or threat‐sensitive than liberals. However, it is not known whether such differences are independent or dependent on the nature of the task or stimuli. Although there are some indications that liberals may also be threat‐sensitive in certain domains, most of the evidence comes from self‐reported risk attitudes, which do not address the basic cognitive processes underlying attitude formation, including how liberals learn and remember negative information. We find that when the same task is framed as a stock market game, that is, StockFest, liberals explore novel financial environments more cautiously and consequently form more negative attitudes than conservatives (i.e., learn and remember more negative than positive stocks). Our findings show for the first time that conservatives do not generally form more negative attitudes than liberals. Rather, the basic cognitive processes underlying exploration of novel stimuli and attitude formation are similar for conservatives and liberals, but these processes are evoked by different kinds of stimuli.


It is commonly believed that conservatives and liberals differ in their psychological dispositions, which are assumed to explain their differences in political attitudes (Hibbing, Smith, & Alford, 2014; Hibbing, Smith, Peterson, & Feher, 2014; Jost, 2017; Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003). Whereas evidence for these differences mostly comes from self‐report measures, there is also evidence from basic cognitive functioning demonstrating that conservatives seem to explore and process negative information and, thereby, develop attitudes differently than liberals (Shook & Fazio, 2009).
In the current study, we argue that the difference in attitude formation could reflect the nature of the stimuli or task, rather than actual psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. To examine whether psychological processes are independent of the nature of the stimuli, one would have to vary the experimental stimuli as recommended by the representative stimuli sampling approach (Brunswik, 1947, 1955; Wells & Windschitl, 1999).
Based on this recommendation, we examine whether the assumed differences between liberals and conservatives are general differences or whether they are contingent on the nature of the stimuli. This procedure allows us to evaluate whether differences between liberals and conservatives are stimulus‐unspecific (i.e., domain‐general) or stimulus‐specific (i.e., domain‐specific).
Our study contributes to the existing literature by assessing for the first time whether basic cognitive processes of attitude formation through exploration of novel stimuli actually reflects fundamental psychological differences between liberals and conservatives when the stimuli are varied.
The Negativity Bias Hypothesis (NBH) is a recent influential proposal that links political attitudes to basic psychological and physiological reactions to negative information (Hibbing, Smith, & Alford, 2014). After reviewing a large body of evidence, the NBH suggests that the basic psychological difference between conservatives and liberals is conservatives’ greater sensitivity to negative stimuli compared to liberals. For example, conservatives exhibit stronger attentional biases (Carraro, Castelli, & Macchiella, 2011), physiological (Dodd, Hibbing, & Smith, 2011; Oxley et al., 2008) and neural responses to negative words, images, and sounds than liberals (Ahn et al., 2014; Amodio, Jost, Master, & Yee, 2007; Kanai, Feilden, Firth, & Rees, 2011). The NBH further argues that differences in negativity biases explain conservative’s greater support for protective policies, because they satisfy underlying needs to manage existential anxieties, a notion that has been echoed in many other studies (see Jost, 2017; Jost et al., 2003, for reviews).
Beyond evidence from self‐report measures, strong support for the NBH comes from the intriguing study on the relationship among political ideology, information gain by exploration, and subsequent attitude formation (Shook & Fazio, 2009). The researchers argued that ideological differences in openness to experience may influence how conservatives and liberals explore their social world and form attitudes towards novel stimuli. They predicted that conservatives would exhibit greater caution in exploring novel stimuli that signal potential exposure to negative information. In contrast, liberals would tend to ignore signs of negativity and explore novel situations more indiscriminately. Conservatives’ cautious exploratory strategy would reduce their gain of information and, thereby, decrease correction of any potential negative attitudes towards the stimuli. Consequently, conservatives would exhibit a learning asymmetry and would overestimate the distribution of negative compared to positive stimuli. In contrast, liberal’s greater exploration will facilitate information gain, correction of negative attitudes towards the stimuli, and consequently a balanced estimation of negative and positive stimuli.
To examine their hypothesis, Shook and Fazio (2009) used a performance task (called BeanFest) in which participants form attitudes based on the exploration of information about novel objects (Fazio, Eiser, & Shook, 2004). The game assesses how individuals explore their environment and form attitudes towards differently shaped and marked visual patterns of stimuli referred to as ‘beans’. The game requires participants to approach different beans in order to learn which are positive (i.e., good beans that increase points) and which are negative (i.e., bad beans that decrease points). If they approach a bean, they receive feedback that reveals whether the bean was negative or positive. If they avoid a bean, they do not receive feedback about the value of the bean. This means that only approach behaviour leads to gain or loss of points.
The findings from Shook and Fazio show that conservatives and liberals act differently in the game. Conservatives adopt a more cautious strategy by exploring fewer beans than liberals, whereas liberals adopt a more open strategy by exploring more beans than conservatives. Differences in exploration produce an asymmetry in learning as a consequence. Conservatives learn bad beans better than good beans (i.e., form more negative than positive attitudes), whereas liberals learn both bad and good beans equally well (i.e., form balanced attitudes). These findings are taken as strong evidence supporting the NBH (Hibbing, Smith, & Alford, 2014; Shook & Fazio, 2009).
The NBH argues that ‘in many respects, compared with liberals, conservatives tend to be more psychologically and physiologically sensitive to environmental stimuli generally but in particular to stimuli that are of negatively valenced, whether threatening or merely unexpected and unstructured’ (Hibbing et al., 2014, p. 303). Such a broad statement anticipates that conservatives would generally exhibit greater sensitivity to all kinds of negatively valenced stimuli than liberals. If this is true, then the relationship between political ideology and negativity bias is domain‐general (i.e., does not depend on the type of negative stimuli).
However, one potential limitation of the NBH is that it conceptualizes negative valence very broadly but operationalizes this broad concept too narrowly. Critics have noted that most of the negative stimuli reviewed by the NBH may be subsumed under a general category of stimuli that have potential to cause direct physical or bodily harm (Crawford, 2017; Eadeh & Chang, 2019). Consequently, the functional stimuli sample size for the studies supporting the NBH is N = 1 (Wells & Windschitl, 1999). For instance, in the case of Shook and Fazio’s study (2009), only one instance of negative stimuli (i.e., bad or ‘poisonous’ beans) was used as experimental stimuli. This stimulus, arguably, falls under the category of food/health or the more general category of physically threatening stimuli. Besides these threats, there are other negative stimuli such as loss of money, poverty, financial scams, and bankruptcy. The NBH assumes, without explicitly testing, that conservatives would exhibit greater sensitivity to these categories of negative stimuli as well.
Under‐sampling of a broad range of negative stimuli from non‐physical domains poses a challenge for the NBH. First, stimuli under‐sampling may overstate negativity bias in conservatives and understate negativity bias in liberals. For example, it is possible that liberals also exhibit greater negativity bias towards other stimuli besides physically threatening stimuli. But this may only be observed if other negative stimuli domains are included in research designs. Secondly, stimuli under‐sampling precludes the generalizability of the findings to other stimuli domains (Brunswik, 1947; Kenny, 1985; Wells & Windschitl, 1999). For example, is negativity bias in conservatives restricted to physically harmful stimuli or does this phenomenon generalize to non‐physically harmful domains as well?
There is some indication that the relationship between ideology and negativity bias could be domain‐specific (i.e., depends on the type of negative stimuli) rather than domain‐general. Prior self‐report studies demonstrate that the relationship between ideology and risk attitudes differs depending on the risk domain (Choma, Hanoch, Gummerum, & Hodson, 2013; Choma, Hanoch, Hodson, & Gummerum, 2014; Choma & Hodson, 2017). Using the domain‐specific risk‐taking (DOSPERT) scale, Choma et al. (2014) showed that, compared to liberals, conservatives report less risk propensity in ethical and social domains, whereas a trend of higher risk propensity for conservatives emerges in the financial domain. However, in the financial domain, a more complex pattern emerges (three‐way interaction) whereby conservatives show higher risk propensity when expected benefits and risk perceptions are high. In a recent study, Choma and Hodson (2017) demonstrated that risk perception may also vary according to the conceptualization of ideology. They differentiate between social and economic conservatism and show that social conservatism (measured as right‐wing authoritarianism) tends to be positively related to risk perception, whereas economic conservatism (measured via social dominance orientation) tends to be negatively related to risk perception (see also Choma et al., 2013).
Furthermore, recent studies using simulated stock markets and real‐world investment portfolios have demonstrated that liberals are less likely to participate in the stock market (Han, Jung, Mittal, Zyung, & Adam, 2019; Kaustia & Torstila, 2011; Moore, Felton, & Wright, 2010), because they perceive the stock market to be a more dangerous and risky place to invest money than conservatives (Fiagbenu & Kessler, 2019). These findings reveal that conservatives may not be generally risk‐averse than liberals as they report higher risk propensity in the financial domain.
Despite the above evidence, the NBH is still broadly accepted. In their most current meta‐analytic evidence in support of the NBH, Jost et al. (2017, p. 345) emphasized that researchers should ‘agree on the basic fact’ … ‘that conservatives are somewhat more sensitive than liberals to potentially threatening stimuli’. Moreover, proponents of the NBH suggest that Shook and Fazio (2009) provide a convincing argument in support of the NBH because the findings reveal the basic learning and memory processes underlying how conservatives form negative attitudes more than liberals.
Although previous studies (Choma et al., 2013, 2014; 2017; Han et al., 2019) have shown that liberals report greater risk aversion in the financial domain than conservatives, differences in the basic processes of exploration and attitude formation remain to be examined with respect to broader stimuli sampling. If the NBH is valid, conservatives should equally show cautious exploratory behaviour and a learning asymmetry across a variety of stimuli. In contrast, if cautious exploration of novel stimuli and learning asymmetry depend on the quality of the stimuli, then liberals and conservatives should equally exhibit cautiousness and learning asymmetry towards different kinds of stimuli.
The aim of the current study is to examine whether the relationship among political ideology, exploration of novel stimuli, and attitude formation is domain‐specific or domain‐general. The BeanFest paradigm is suitable for examining our competing hypotheses because it is amenable to framing. Previous studies have shown that the BeanFest can be framed as a neutral game whereby participants play for points, or as a life and death game whereby participants play for energy points in order to survive and to avoid dying (Fazio et al., 2004). Whereas Shook and Fazio (2009) used the bland or neutral version, we decided to use the negative version in order to examine how negative framing influences attitude formation as a function of political ideology. Consequently, in addition to the BeanFest, we considered a different variant of the game, which we call StockFest. StockFest is a wealth‐bankruptcy game in which participants learn about the same visual patterns referred to as ‘stocks’. Buying good stocks increases wealth points, whereas buying bad stocks decreases wealth and results in bankruptcy. Both StockFest and BeanFest have exactly the same structure and are represented by the same visual patterns, but only differ by how they are framed.
Both games are suitable for investigating whether the relationship between political ideology, exploration, and attitude formation depends on the nature of the attitude stimuli or not. The domain‐general hypothesis predicts that in both games, conservatives would show more cautious exploration and would consequently form more negative attitudes than liberals whereas liberals would exhibit greater exploration and would form more positive attitudes than conservatives. Alternatively, the domain‐specific hypothesis predicts that in BeanFest, conservatives would exhibit greater caution and form more negative attitudes, whereas liberals will be more exploratory and would form more positive attitudes as a consequence. A reverse pattern is expected in StockFest whereby conservatives would exhibit greater exploratory behaviour and form more positive attitudes, whereas liberals would be more cautious and therefore form more negative attitudes.