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The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives

September 11, 2013 Comments off

The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives (PDF)
Source: Political Behavior

American politics has become more polarized. The source of the phenomena is debated. We posit that human mate choice may play a role in the process. Spouses are highly correlated in their political preferences, and research in behavioral genetics, neuroscience, and endocrinology shows that political preferences develop through a complex interaction of social upbringing, life experience, immediate circumstance, and genes and hormones, operating through one’s psychological architecture by Hatemi et al. (J Theor Politics, 24:305–327, 2012). Consequently, if people with similar political values produce children, there will be more individuals at the ideological extremes over generations. This said, we are left with a mystery: spousal concordance on political attitudes does not result from convergence over the course of the relationship, nor are spouses initially selecting one another on political preferences. We examine whether positive mate assortation—like seeks like—on non-political factors such as lifestyle and demographics could lead to inadvertent assortation on political preferences. Using a sample of Internet dating profiles we find that both liberals and conservatives seek to date individuals who are like themselves. This result suggests a pathway by which long-term couples come to share political preferences, which in turn could be fueling the widening ideological gap in the United States.

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Not in My Front Yard! The Displaying of Yard Signs as a Form of Political Participation

October 18, 2012 Comments off

Not in My Front Yard! The Displaying of Yard Signs as a Form of Political Participation (PDF)
Source: Political Behavior (forthcoming)

Despite the ubiquity of yard signs, little is known about how and why individuals display them. Using two original studies of the 2008 presidential race, along with ANES data, we address three points pertaining to this understudied form of political participation. First, what are the correlates of the individuals and households that display signs? Second, what motivates such displays, and to what extent do those motives reflect expressive and communicative desires? Finally, how do individuals obtain signs, and do individuals – rather than parties or candidates – play a role in spreading signs throughout neighborhoods? Our findings suggest that the dissemination of yard signs is not merely a top-down process driven by campaign professionals, but a genuine participatory act that is fueled by individual initiative and social networking.

The Stained Glass Ceiling: Social Contact and Mitt Romney’s ‘‘Religion Problem’’

May 23, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Political Behavior

Why did Mitt Romney face antagonism toward his Mormon religion in the 2008 election? Using experiments conducted in the real time of the campaign, we test voters’ reactions to information about Romney’s religious background. We find that voters were concerned specifically with Romney’s religious affiliation, not simply with the fact that he is religious. Furthermore, concern over Romney’s Mormonism dwarfed concerns about the religious backgrounds of Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee. We find evidence for a curvilinear hypothesis linking social contact with Mormons and reaction to information about Romney’s Mormonism. Voters who have no personal exposure to Mormons are most likely to be persuaded by both negative and positive information about the Mormon faith, while voters who have sustained personal contact with Mormons are the least likely to be persuaded either way. Voters with moderate contact, however, react strongly to negative information about the religion but are not persuaded by countervailing positive information.

Full Paper (PDF)

Hat tip:  PW

When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions

November 30, 2011 Comments off

When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions (PDF)
Source: Political Behavior (forthcoming)

An extensive literature addresses citizen ignorance, but very little research focuses on misperceptions. Can these false or unsubstantiated beliefs about politics be corrected? Previous studies have not tested the efficacy of corrections in a realistic format. We conducted four experiments in which subjects read mock news articles that included either a misleading claim from a politician, or a misleading claim and a correction. Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a “backfire effect” in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.

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