Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Voter bias against women cannot explain female underrepresentation in American politics; if anything, voters prefer women over men

Poutvaara, Panu; Graefe, Andreas (2022) : Do Americans Favor Female or Male Politicians? Evidence from Experimental Elections, Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2022: Big Data in Economics, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, Kiel, Hamburg. https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/264117/1/vfs-2022-pid-70505.pdf

Abstract: Women are severely underrepresented in American politics, especially among Republicans. This under-representation can arise from women being less willing to run for office, from voter bias against women, or from political structures that make it more difficult for women to compete. Here we show to what extent support for female candidates varies by voters’ party affiliation and gender. We carried out hypothetical elections in which participants made vote choices solely based on politicians’ faces. When deciding between candidates of different genders, Democrats, and particularly Democratic women, preferred female candidates, while Republicans chose female and male candidates equally often. These patterns remained when controlling for respondents’ education, age, and political knowledge and for candidates’ age, attractiveness, and perceived conservativeness. Our results suggest that voter bias against women cannot explain female under-representation. On the contrary, American voters appear ready to further narrow the gender gap in politics.

Keywords: Gender; Elections; Gender discrimination; Political candidates
JEL: D72; J16

5 Conclusion

Major gender gaps have opened in American politics in recent decades. Women are more likely than men to support Democrats (Gillion et al., 2020), Democratic voters are more likely than Republicans to support female candidates (Schwarz & Coppock, 2021), and the female share of congressional Democrats is almost three times that of congressional Republicans (Fig. 1B). We carried out hypothetical elections in 2016 and 2020 to disentangle how voter gender and partisanship interact in support for female candidates. Our results show that Democrats generally favored female candidates, and that preference for female candidates was particularly strong among Democratic women. In our 2020 survey, Democratic women chose the female candidate three times as often as the male candidate. Republican respondents, instead, chose female and male candidates about equally often. Our findings suggest that voter bias against women cannot explain female under-representation in American politics, even among Republicans. If anything, voters, on average, prefer women over men.

Our approach to study gender discrimination in voting complements vignette and conjoint survey experiments, which have become an established practice in political science research (Hainmueller et al., 2015; Hainmueller et al., 2014). In these studies, respondents state their preferences based on short, standardized descriptions of hypothetical candidates. Vignette and conjoint survey experiments allow studying simultaneously the effects of different cues, like gender, age, and reported experience. However, this comes at the cost that researchers define the characteristics that are presented to respondents, and how these are presented. Our approach of asking respondents to make vote choices based on candidate photographs does not require researchers to specify what textual cues are provided to respondents and in which order. Instead, we collected vote choices for hypothetical elections among all 736 Members of the European Parliament. One advantage of using MEPs was that they are real and elected politicians. Hence, the photographs likely incorporate cues that are relevant in politics, which may not be the case when using stock photographs. Another advantage of using MEPs was that American respondents are unlikely to recognize the candidates, which could have introduced bias. Finally, previous research has shown that evaluations of politicians’ photographs help to predict election outcomes around the world, providing external validity for using photographs (Antonakis & Dalgas, 2009; Ballew & Todorov, 2007; Berggren et al., 2010; Lawson et al., 2010; Todorov et al., 2005).

A major concern in all surveys is that subjects might change their behavior due to cues about what constitutes appropriate behavior (Zizzo, 2010). In our setting, the concern is that respondents would find supporting female candidates in hypothetical elections the appropriate choice, even if they would not vote for the female candidate in a real election. Our study design alleviates these concerns by randomizing gender combinations in hypothetical elections. We also did not refer to gender – but only to voting under very little information – in our task description. Furthermore, recent research has found that experimenter demand effects are small in online surveys even when respondents are provided a hint on the hypothesis that researchers are testing (de Quidt et al., 2018; Mummolo & Peterson, 2019). Comparing conjoint and vignette experiments with real referendums in Switzerland also suggests that estimates from survey experiments perform remarkably well in predicting actual voting outcomes (Hainmueller et al., 2014).

Our results emphasize the critical role of supply side factors as remaining barriers to closing the gender gap in political representation, such as women’s reluctance to enter politics and discrimination by party elites and donors, as well as the weight of historical f emale under-representation through incumbency advantage. Given that voters with prior exposure to female leaders are more likely to vote for women (Baskaran & Hessami, 2018; Beaman et al., 2009; Bhavnani, 2009), recent increases in the share of elected female politicians, and the election of Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President of the United States, could foreshadow a narrowing gender gap in years to come.

Moralization of rationality can actually stimulate the spread of news hostile to political opponents 'cause status seeking individuals moralize rationality as a form of grandstanding and use it to spread hostile information, in order to sound relevant

Marie, Antoine, and Michael Bang Petersen. 2022. “Moralization of Rationality Can Stimulate, but Intellectual Humility Inhibits, Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors.” OSF Preprints. March 4. doi:10.31219/osf.io/k7u68

Abstract: Many assume that if citizens became more inclined to moralize the values of evidence-based and logical thinking, political hostility and conspiracy theories would be less widespread. Across two large surveys (N = 3675) run in the U.S. of 2021 (one exploratory and one pre-registered), we provide the first demonstration that moralization of rationality can actually stimulate the spread of news hostile to political opponents. We provide further evidence that this counter-intuitive finding reflects that status seeking individuals moralize rationality as a form of grandstanding and use it to spread hostile information, in order to sound relevant. In contrast to such moral grandstanding with respect to rationality, our studies find robust evidence that intellectual humility—i.e., the awareness that intuitions are fallible, and that trusting others is often desirable—may protect people from both sharing and believing hostile news. Those associations generalized to all hostile news, independently of whether they are “fake” or anchored in real events.

Effect of urbanicity (metro v nonmetro) on life satisfaction, or Subjective WellBeing: The negative effect of metro vs nonmetro is equivalent to the effect of one’s health deteriorating about a third from "fair" to "poor"

Unhappy Metros: Panel Evidence. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn. Applied Research in Quality of Life, Sep 13 2022. https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11482-022-10102-7

Abstract: We study the effect of urbanicity (metro v nonmetro) on life satisfaction, or Subjective WellBeing (SWB). The literature agrees that residents of metropolitan areas tend to be less satisfied with their lives than residents of smaller settlements in the developed world. But the existing evidence is cross-sectional only. This is the first study using longitudinal dataset to test the “unhappy metro” hypothesis. Using the 2009–2019 US Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we find support for the cross-sectional findings: metros are less happy than nonmetros. The effect size is practically significant, the negative effect of metro v nonmetro is equivalent to the effect of one’s health deteriorating about a third from “fair” to “poor.” Given extremely large scale of urbanization, projected 6b of people from 1950 to 2050, the combined effect of urbanicity on human wellbeing is large.

1    Interestingly, neuroscience is becoming interested in urbanism (Adli et al., 2017; Pykett et al., 2020), and initial empirical results indicate negative effect of urbanism on human brain (Lederbogen et al., 2011).

2    Yet, on the other hand, in a city there can be community, a neighborhood village, that at least in some ways can simulate a more natural habitat for a human (Fischer 1995, 1975, Jacobs ([1961] 1993).

3    There is a debate whether utility is happiness and it is beyond the scope of this study, for discussion see Van Der Deijl (2018), Welsh (2016), Hirschauer et al. (2015), Kenny (2011), Ng (2011), Clark et al. (2008), Frey et al. (2008), Becker and Rayo (2008), Kahneman and Krueger (2006), Kimball and Willis (2006), Kahneman and Thaler (2006), Stutzer et al. (2004), Frey and Stutzer (2002), Kahneman (2000), Frey and Stutzer (2000), Kahneman et al. (1997), Ng (1997), Kahneman and Thaler (1991), Scitovsky (1976).

4    Burger et al. (2020) also uses faulty Gallup data as elaborated in Okulicz-Kozaryn and Valente (2021)–in general, one should avoid Gallup happiness data–Gallup charges $30,000 for access (per one year), clearly “happiness industry,” not happiness research (Davies 2015).

Twitter use is related to decreased well-being, increased polarization, and increased sense of belonging with effect sizes with practical significance

de Mello, Victoria O., Felix Cheung, and Michael Inzlicht. 2022. “Twitter Use in the Everyday Life: Exploring How Twitter Use Predicts Well-being, Polarization, and Sense of Belonging.” PsyArXiv. September 12. doi:10.31234/osf.io/4x5em

Abstract: Twitter has the potential to influence public decision-making, as it is the platform used by elites in journalism, entertainment, and politics. How are users affected by Twitter? How are different effects moderated by different characteristics of the user (such as personality) and the use (such as purpose of usage)?  We conducted an experience sampling study to address these questions. We found that Twitter use is related to decreased well-being, increased polarization, and increased sense of belonging with effect sizes with practical significance. All effects had considerable heterogeneity. We did not find any evidence for interaction effects with personality, age, or gender. We found that specific usage purposes are linked to different user outcomes. Finally, we found that most of the variance in the effects was mostly driven by within-subjects effects, suggesting that these effects are not caused by third variables.