Monday, September 7, 2020

The small effects of political advertising are small regardless of context, message, sender, or receiver: Evidence from 59 real-time randomized experiments

The small effects of political advertising are small regardless of context, message, sender, or receiver: Evidence from 59 real-time randomized experiments. Alexander Coppock, Seth J. Hill and Lynn Vavreck. Science Advances  Sep 2 2020: Vol. 6, no. 36, eabc4046. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc4046

Abstract: Evidence across social science indicates that average effects of persuasive messages are small. One commonly offered explanation for these small effects is heterogeneity: Persuasion may only work well in specific circumstances. To evaluate heterogeneity, we repeated an experiment weekly in real time using 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign advertisements. We tested 49 political advertisements in 59 unique experiments on 34,000 people. We investigate heterogeneous effects by sender (candidates or groups), receiver (subject partisanship), content (attack or promotional), and context (battleground versus non-battleground, primary versus general election, and early versus late). We find small average effects on candidate favorability and vote. These small effects, however, do not mask substantial heterogeneity even where theory from political science suggests that we should find it. During the primary and general election, in battleground states, for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, effects are similarly small. Heterogeneity with large offsetting effects is not the source of small average effects.

Check also Persuasive Effects of Presidential Campaign Advertising: Results of 53 Real-time Experiments in 2016. Alexander Coppock, Seth J. Hill and Lynn Vavreck. Prepared for presentation at the 2019 meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., August 23, 2019. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2019/10/persuasive-effects-of-presidential.html

And Le Pennec, Caroline, and Vincent Pons. "Vote Choice Formation and the Minimal Effects of TV Debates: Evidence from 61 Elections in 9 OECD Countries." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 20-031, September 2019. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2019/10/tv-debates-small-effect-in-voters.html

And Testing popular news discourse on the “echo chamber” effect: Does political polarisation occur among those relying on social media as their primary politics news source? Nguyen, A. and Vu, H.T. First Monday, 24 (5), 6. Jun 4 2019. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2019/10/testing-popular-news-discourse-on-echo.html

And Right-Wing Populism, Social Media and Echo Chambers in Western Democracies. Shelley Boulianne, Karolina Koc-Michalska, Bruce Bimber. New Media & Society, presented, in review. Sep 2019. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2019/10/echo-chambers-usa-overall-we-find-no.html

And Kalla, Joshua and Broockman, David E., The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments (September 25, 2017). Forthcoming, American Political Science Review; Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 17-65. American Political Science Review. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/11/the-best-estimate-of-effects-of.html

Liberals Report Lower Levels of Attitudinal Ambivalence Than Conservatives, despite conservatives been shown to be positively correlated with intolerance of ambiguity & negatively correlated with openness to new experiences

Liberals Report Lower Levels of Attitudinal Ambivalence Than Conservatives. Leonard Newman & Rikki Sargent. Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 22, 2020. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550620939798

Abstract: Political conservatism has been shown to be positively correlated with intolerance of ambiguity, need for closure, and dogmatism and negatively correlated with openness to new experiences and uncertainty tolerance. Those findings suggest that conservatism should also be negatively correlated with attitudinal ambivalence; by definition, ambivalent attitudes are more complex and more tinged with uncertainty than univalent attitudes. However, little published research addresses this issue. The results of five studies (total N = 1,049 participants) reveal instead that political liberalism is negatively associated with ambivalence. This finding held for both subjective and potential (i.e., formula-based) measures of ambivalence and for both politicized and nonpoliticized attitude objects. Conservatives may prefer uncomplicated and consistent ways of thinking and feeling, but that preference might not necessarily be reflected in the actual consistency of their mental representations. Possible accounts for these findings are discussed.

But... Political conservatives exhibit greater judgment & decision-making confidence than liberals: They exhibit a greater motivation to make rapid & efficient judgments & are more likely to “seize” on an initial response option
The confident conservative: Ideological differences in judgment and decision-making confidence. Benjamin Ruisch & Chadly Stern. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, August 13 2020. https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2020/09/political-conservatives-exhibit-greater.html

Political conservatives exhibit greater judgment & decision-making confidence than liberals: They exhibit a greater motivation to make rapid & efficient judgments & are more likely to “seize” on an initial response option

The confident conservative: Ideological differences in judgment and decision-making confidence. Benjamin Ruisch & Chadly Stern. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, August 13 2020. https://read.qxmd.com/read/32790460/the-confident-conservative-ideological-differences-in-judgment-and-decision-making-confidence

Abstract: In this research, we document the existence of broad ideological differences in judgment and decision-making confidence and examine their source. Across a series of 14 studies (total N = 4,575), we find that political conservatives exhibit greater judgment and decision-making confidence than do political liberals. These differences manifest across a wide range of judgment tasks, including both memory recall and “in the moment” judgments. Further, these effects are robust across different measures of confidence and both easy and hard tasks. We also find evidence suggesting that ideological differences in closure-directed cognition might in part explain these confidence differences. Specifically, conservatives exhibit a greater motivation to make rapid and efficient judgments and are more likely to “seize” on an initial response option when faced with a decision. Liberals, conversely, tend to consider a broader range of alternative response options before making a decision, which in turn undercuts their confidence relative to their more conservative counterparts. We discuss theoretical implications of these findings for the role of ideology in social judgment and decision-making.


But... Liberals Report Lower Levels of Attitudinal Ambivalence Than Conservatives, despite conservatives been shown to be positively correlated with intolerance of ambiguity, need for closure, and dogmatism and negatively correlated with openness to new experiences and uncertainty tolerance:
Liberals Report Lower Levels of Attitudinal Ambivalence Than Conservatives. Leonard Newman & Rikki Sargent. Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 22, 2020.
https://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2020/09/liberals-report-lower-levels-of.html

Intolerance toward ideological outgroups: We show that conservatives are more ideologically intolerant than liberals and that the more intelligent are more ideologically intolerant than the less intelligent

Ganzach, Y., & Schul, Y. (2020). Partisan ideological attitudes: Liberals are tolerant; the intelligent are intolerant. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Sep 2020.  https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000324

Abstract: In this article we examine intolerance toward ideological outgroups, conceptualized as the negativity of the attitudes of liberals and conservatives toward their ideological outgroup. We show that conservatives are more ideologically intolerant than liberals and that the more intelligent are more ideologically intolerant than the less intelligent. We also show that the differences between liberals and conservatives and the differences between the more and less intelligent depend on ideological extremity: They are larger for extreme than for moderate ideologists. The implication of these results to questions regarding the relationship between intelligence and ideological intolerance and regarding the relationship between ideology and prejudice are discussed.


Right-wing Authoritarianism, Left-wing Authoritarianism, and pandemic-mitigation authoritarianism

Right-wing Authoritarianism, Left-wing Authoritarianism, and pandemic-mitigation authoritarianism. Joseph Manson. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 167, 1 December 2020, 110251. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886920304402

Abstract: Recent research suggests the validity of the construct of Left-wing Authoritarianism (LWA). Like its well-studied parallel construct Right-wing Authoritarianism, LWA is characterized by dogmatism, punitive attitudes toward dissenters, and desire for strong authority figures. In contrast to RWA, LWA mobilizes these traits on behalf of left-wing values (e.g. anti-racism, anti-sexism, and wealth redistribution). I inductively examined the extent to which RWA and LWA predicted, in April 2020, Americans' endorsement of 19 authoritarian policies and practices intended to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 11 of these policies (e.g. abrogating the right to trial by jury for pandemic-related crimes), both RWA and LWA independently positively predicted endorsement. These findings are consistent with recent work showing psychological similarities between the two constructs.

5. Discussion

Reacting to the severe public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020, many citizens of liberal democratic nations have tolerated, or even demanded, actions from their governments that they would view as unacceptably heavy-handed under normal conditions. The current study used this situation to extend the nomological networks of the well-established construct of Right-wing Authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1981Duckitt et al., 2010), and the promising, but so far little-explored, construct of Left-wing Authoritarianism (Conway III et al., 2017Costello, Bowes, et al., 2020). Both traits predicted endorsement of a range of putatively pandemic-mitigating policies and practices that many would regard as authoritarian. A few of these results were unremarkable, or even slightly circular, e.g. one of the ACT items condemns abortion, and one of the policies endorsed more by people higher in RWA was closing abortion clinics. However, most of the results illuminated, some of them rather surprisingly, how people with authoritarian attitudes respond when, due to a crisis, a menu of normally taboo authoritarian policies appears on the table of mainstream public debate in a liberal democracy. For example, RWA is positively related to conservatism (Crowson, Thoma, & Hestevold, 2005), and one component of American conservatism is advocacy of free markets, and yet RWA was positively associated with endorsement of the government running the economy.
Although I did not measure perception of the danger posed by COVID-19, it is unlikely that variation in objective risk of death or serious illness drove the observed associations between RWA or LWA and increased endorsement of putatively authoritarian policies. None of the three covariates chosen because of their association with COVID-19 mortality risk (county COVID-19 rate, age, or African-American identity) was consistently positively related to endorsement of these policies.
This study builds on recent work (Costello, Bowes, et al., 2020) that has demonstrated the existence of authoritarian attitudes on both ends of the political spectrum, and has documented numerous psychological similarities between RWA and LWA. Two such similarities are belief in a dangerous world, and preference for state control. Consistent with these findings, I found that in response to the danger posed by a deadly pandemic, people high in RWA and people high in LWA agreed on the need for enhanced state control in several domains, including restrictions on the right to protest, punishment without the right to trial by jury, and surveillance via a mandatory tracking app. The policies on which people high in RWA and people high in LWA disagreed tended to be those most directly tied to American right-wing vs. left-wing values, e.g. religion, abortion, and immigration.

5.1. Limitations

This study had three major limitations. First, no other political attitudes, besides RWA and LWA, were measured. Controlling for other attitudes would have changed the observed statistical associations between authoritarianism and policy endorsements. As just one example, RWA is distinct from, but positively correlated with, Social Dominance Orientation (SDO: Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994Roccato & Ricolfi, 2005), defined as degree of preference for inequality among social groups. Controlling for SDO might have reduced the association between RWA and endorsement of ban foreigners from entering. Second, as a cross-sectional study, this work cannot address the possibility of reversed causality, i.e. that the COVID-19 pandemic, as a perceived threat, has increased levels of authoritarianism (see Duckitt, 2001). Finally, my study population consisted exclusively of U.S. residents, so its findings do not generalize to other countries. Exploring this general topic internationally would require compiling country-specific lists of putatively authoritarian pandemic-mitigation policies. Furthermore, the validity of the LWA construct outside the U.S. has not been demonstrated.

5.2. Conclusions

LWA holds considerable promise as an explanatory construct in political psychology (Conway III et al., 2017Costello, Bowes, et al., 2020). Both the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the general U.S. political scene, have changed considerably since the data for this study were collected. Therefore, replicating it exactly might be impossible. In general, however, the relationship of LWA to policy preferences comprises a fruitful topic for future research.

Women report lower subjective well-being in areas with more female-biased sex ratios, but males’ well-being was unaffected; I suggest that results may be due to their decreased bargaining power in the dating market

Richardson, Thomas. 2020. “The Effect of the Adult Sex Ratio on Subjective Well-being: Evidence from Europe.” PsyArXiv. September 7. doi:10.31234/osf.io/sb8w6

Abstract: In recent years researchers studying subjective well-being have found that ecological factors may underpin societal differences in happiness. The adult sex ratio, the number of males relative to females in an environment, influences many behaviours in both humans and non-human animals. However, the possible influence of the sex ratio on subjective well-being has received little attention. I investigated the relationship between the adult sex ratio and subjective well-being in over 29000 respondents 133 regions of Europe. I find that women report lower subjective well-being in areas with more female-biased sex ratios, but males’ well-being was unaffected. I did not find that the sex ratio influences sex specific probability of marriage or marriage rates overall. I find that increased population density is associated with lower well-being. Drawing from sociological and evolutionary theories, I suggest that results may be due to their decreased bargaining power in the dating market.




Getting Fewer “Likes” Than Others on Social Media Elicits Emotional Distress Among Victimized Adolescents

Getting Fewer “Likes” Than Others on Social Media Elicits Emotional Distress Among Victimized Adolescents. Hae Yeon Lee  Jeremy P. Jamieson  Harry T. Reis  Christopher G. Beevers  Robert A. Josephs  Michael C. Mullarkey  Joseph M. O’Brien  David S. Yeager. Child Development, September 6 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13422

Abstract: Three studies examined the effects of receiving fewer signs of positive feedback than others on social media. In Study 1, adolescents (N = 613, Mage = 14.3 years) who were randomly assigned to receive few (vs. many) likes during a standardized social media interaction felt more strongly rejected, and reported more negative affect and more negative thoughts about themselves. In Study 2 (N = 145), negative responses to receiving fewer likes were associated with greater depressive symptoms reported day‐to‐day and at the end of the school year. Study 3 (N = 579) replicated Study 1’s main effect of receiving fewer likes and showed that adolescents who already experienced peer victimization at school were the most vulnerable. The findings raise the possibility that technology which makes it easier for adolescents to compare their social status online—even when there is no chance to share explicitly negative comments—could be a risk factor that accelerates the onset of internalizing symptoms among vulnerable youth.

Culturally learned first impressions occur rapidly and automatically & emerge early in development; automaticity, rapid access, & early emergence are not evidence that first impressions have an innate origin

Culturally learned first impressions occur rapidly and automatically and emerge early in development. Adam Eggleston Jonathan C. Flavell  Steven P. Tipper  Richard Cook  Harriet Over. Developmental Science, Jul 20 2020. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/desc.13021

Abstract: Previous research indicates that first impressions from faces are the products of automatic and rapid processing and emerge early in development. These features have been taken as evidence that first impressions have a phylogenetic origin. We examine whether first impressions acquired through learning can also possess these features. First, we confirm that adults rate a person as more intelligent when they are wearing glasses (Study 1). Next, we show this inference persists when participants are instructed to ignore the glasses (Study 2) and when viewing time is restricted to 100 milliseconds (Study 3). Finally, we show that six‐year‐old, but not 4‐year‐old, children perceive individuals wearing glasses to be more intelligent, indicating that the effect is seen relatively early in development (Study 4). These data indicate that automaticity, rapid access, and early emergence are not evidence that first impressions have an innate origin. Rather, these features are equally compatible with a learning model.


COVID-19: Higher media volume was associated with higher perceived knowledge, but not with higher actual knowledge; perceived threat was linked to perceived knowledge, but not to actual knowledge

Granderath, Julia S., Christina Sondermann, Andreas Martin, and Martin Merkt. 2020. “The Effect of Information Behavior in Media on Perceived and Actual Knowledge About the COVID-19 Pandemic.” PsyArXiv. September 7. doi:10.31234/osf.io/3y874

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic poses a global health threat that has dominated media coverage. However, not much is known about how individuals use media to acquire knowledge about COVID-19 under conditions of perceived threat. To address this, this study investigated how perceived threat affects media use (i.e., media volume and media breadth), and how media use in turn affects perceived and actual knowledge about COVID-19. In a German online survey, N = 952 participants provided information on their perceived threat and their media use to inform themselves about COVID-19. They further indicated how well they are informed about COVID-19 (perceived knowledge) and completed a COVID-19 knowledge test (actual knowledge). The results indicated that individuals who felt more threatened by COVID-19 used media more often to inform themselves (i.e., media volume), but focused on less different media channels (i.e., media breadth). Higher media volume was associated with higher perceived knowledge, but not with higher actual knowledge about COVID-19. Further, exploratory analyses revealed that perceived threat was linked to perceived knowledge, but not to actual knowledge. The association of perceived threat and perceived knowledge was mediated by increased media volume. Finally, a smaller media breadth was linked to higher perceived and actual knowledge.



Disgust Toward Interracial Couples may only emerge under certain conditions; current research offers limited support for the hypothesis that disgust response is exclusively linked to interracial unions

Disgust Toward Interracial Couples: Mixed Feelings About Black–White Race Mixing. Shoko Watanabe & Sean Laurent. Social Psychological and Personality Science, Jul 22 2020. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550620939411

Abstract: Three studies further explored Skinner and Hudac's (2017) hypothesis that interracial couples elicit disgust. Using verbal and face emotion measures (Study 1), some participants reported more disgust toward interracial couples than same-race White and Black couples. In Study 2, only people higher in disgust sensitivity tended to “guess” that rapidly presented images of interracial (vs. White) couples were disgusting. Study 3 used a novel image classification paradigm that presented couples side-by-side with neutral or disgusting images. Participants took longer to decide whether target images were disgusting only when interracial (vs. White) couples appeared next to neutral images. Greater sexual disgust heightened this difference. Mixed evidence suggesting an association of disgust with Black couples also emerged in Studies 2 and 3. Thus, the disgust–interracial romance association may only emerge under certain conditions, and the current research offers limited support for the hypothesis that disgust response is exclusively linked to interracial unions.



The deficit model states that incorrect opinions are a result of a lack of information; the cultural cognition model states that opinions are formed to maximize congruence with the group that one affiliates with

How others drive our sense of understanding of policies. NATHANIEL RABB, JOHN J. HAN & STEVEN A. SLOMAN. Behavioural Public Policy, September 2020. https://doi.org/10.1017/bpp.2020.40

Abstract: Five experiments are reported to compare models of attitude formation about hot-button policy issues like climate change. In broad strokes, the deficit model states that incorrect opinions are a result of a lack of information, while the cultural cognition model states that opinions are formed to maximize congruence with the group that one affiliates with. The community of knowledge hypothesis takes an integrative position. It states that opinions are based on perceived knowledge, but that perceptions are partly determined by the knowledge that sits in the heads of others in the community. We use the fact that people's sense of understanding is affected by knowledge of others’ understanding to arbitrate among these views in the domain of public policy. In all experiments (N = 1767), we find that the contagious sense of understanding is nonpartisan and robust to experimental manipulations intended to eliminate it. While ideology clearly affects people's attitudes, sense of understanding does as well, but level of actual knowledge does not. And the extent to which people overestimate their own knowledge partly determines the extremity of their position. The pattern of results is most consistent with the community of knowledge hypothesis. Implications for climate policy are considered.