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474 persuasion and propaganda (2 2013) up 474 persuasion and propaganda (2 2013) up Presentation Transcript

  • PERSUASION, PROPAGANDA &ATTITUDE CHANGE: THEORIES ANDAPPLICATIONS PS 474 Mark Peffley
  • Today Examples of political ads and propaganda, Definitions Theories of attitude change and persuasion Source, Message & audience characteristics
  • Before turning to political propaganda, a fewexamples of creative & effective ads View slide
  • Recent political ads Issue ads (not just for campaigns anymore): Gun control  NRA  Ad 1: Bloomberg group’s superbowl ad  Ad in KY: 2012 Campaign  We’ve Heard it all before, Obama, Je 4  Fear, Romney, Je 4 View slide
  • Other 2012 ads
  • “Classic” examples ofpolitical propaganda “Daisy ad,” 1964 (the power of S1 thinking) Recent study: More negative ads by Democratic Party; negative ads contribute to political learning.
  • Examples of political propaganda Willie Horton ad, 1988 RNC Turnstile ad, 1988 Jesse Helms "Hands" ad, 1990Harold Ford Jr not for Tennessee, 2006
  • II. What is propaganda?ExamplesDefinitions
  • DefinitionsPratkanis & Aaronson• Propaganda is an attempt to influence people through the manipulation of symbols and the psychology of the individual by playing on the individual’s prejudices and emotions rather than a reasoned argument about the merits of the issue. • The goal of modern propaganda is not the education or instilling the truth or enlightenment of the public. The goal of modern propaganda is not to inform or enlighten but to move the masses voluntarily to a desired point of view, by any means necessary • Education, more generally, should provide people with the skills necessary to make their own decisions; it should encourage critical thinking.
  • More DefinitionsPage & Shapiro, The Rational Public:• Educate: Individuals or institutions (schools, elected officials, media, experts), that influence public opinion by providing correct, helpful information, can be said to educate the public.• Mislead: Individuals or institutions that influence public opinion by providing incorrect, biased, or selective information, or erroneous interpretations can be said to mislead the public.• Manipulate: If government officials or others mislead the public consciously and deliberately, by means of lies, falsehoods, deception, or concealment, they manipulate public opinion
  • Note: Schools aren’t only in theeducation business The State Board of Education in Texas is one of the largest, most influential—and most conservative— in the country, and their social- studies curriculum guidelines will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years. They buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually.
  • Education, Misleading or Manipulation? Texas Board Others’ Views Christian activist on the Texas board: “The  U.S. Historian: Were some of the founders Christian--yes but some were deists and some agnostic. The basic principles philosophy of the classroom in one generation will of the Constitution were to create a new nation based in be the philosophy of the government in the next.” democratic Enlightenment principles, not religious principles. Students required to evaluate the contributions of Indeed, Enlightenment philosophy is the antithesis of religious dogma. significant Americans. The names proposed included Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt  Benjamin Franklin: “When a religion is good, I conceive it will Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I except Kennedy, who was voted down. apprehend, of its being a bad one.“ “Many of us recognize that Judeo-Christian  President John Adams: "Nothing is more dreaded than the principles were the basis of our country and that national government meddling with religion.“ many of our founding documents had a basis in  President Thomas Jefferson: "I consider the government of the Scripture. As we try to promote a better United States as interdicted by the Constitution from understanding of the Constitution, federalism, the intermeddling with religious institutions. . . . I do not believe it separation of the branches of government, the basic is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, I think it will direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrine.“ become evident to students that the founders had a  President James Madison ("Father of the Constitution" and religious motivation.” principal author of the First Amendment): "There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant violation.“
  • III. Why Do We live in an Age of Propaganda?Pratkanis & Aronson, The Age of Propaganda
  • A. The Essential Modern Dilemma:Persuasion as free exchange of ideas &debate vs. “mindless propaganda”
  • B. Why mindless propaganda?
  • Announcements! 1st written assignment posted Political Brain covered in class Due Feb 26 vs. 21st Midterm March 5th vs. Feb 28th Study Qs for Age of Propaganda posted  (Note: skip chs. 15-16, 22, 26-27, 29-32, 34-35, 40.  Do not skip chapters: 12-14 & 39. Questions for Thinking, posted 1 week before exam.
  • IV. Theories of attitude change:Hovland’s message-learning (information processing) approachCognitive response approachElaboration likelihood model (ELM)
  • Carl Hovland’s (1953) MessageLearning (Information Processing)Approach to Attitude Change:“Who Says What To Whom and How andwith What Effect?”Who = Source characteristicsWhat = MessageWhom = AudienceHow = MediumEffect = Persistence
  • Hovland’s Approach: “Message Learning” or persuasion requires some degree of attention, comprehension, yielding & retention. 1950s to 1970s.Between 1942 and 1945 he worked for the U.S. War Department, studying the effectiveness of training films andinformation programs, especially audience resistance to persuasive communications and methods of overcomingsuch resistance.Source effects. One-sided versus two-sided messages.
  • Hovland example: The Influence of Source Credibility onCommunication Effectiveness, 1951. Randomly assign Ss to: 1) Positive and Negative positions, and 2) High and low credibility sources.
  • Hovland results: People more likely to acceptthe position of high credibility sources, onaverage! (There was more to the article thanthis, of course).
  • Hovland’s Approach: Problems Neither attention nor comprehension of a message (beyond mere exposure to it) are necessary for attitude change.  In other words, people can accept a message even if they didn’t understand or pay attention to it. EX: Did people actually “learn” more from a high credibility source? Examples:  Feelings of pride when flags wave or patriotic music plays  Infatuation for attractive or charismatic
  • Cognitive Response Approach: (Ch. 2 in Age of Propaganda), late 1970s. It’s not so much the characteristics of the message or the source that affect persuasion, but the thoughts running thorough our heads that matter. It’s not so much whether people learn about the message, as Hovland argued, but the fact that people spontaneously produce evaluative thoughts during the message presentation and the favorability of the thoughts is a good predictor of the success of the persuasion.
  • Cognitive Response Approach:(Greenwald) A successful persuasion tactic is one that directs and channels thoughts so that the target thinks in a manner agreeable to the communicator’s point of view (p. 31). The key is to disrupt any negative thoughts and promote positive thoughts about the proposed course of action. Examples?
  • Cognitive Response Approach: Problems Problem with CR approach is that it assumes people are very active and thoughtful. But again, we know from research that attitude change can occur when people don’t think and are relatively mindless. How does this occur?  Elaboration Likelihood Method.
  • Elaboration (thinking) Likelihood Model(ELM), R.E. Petty & John Cacciopo  There are both Central (thoughtful) and Peripheral (mindless) routes to persuasion.  Central and Peripheral routes to persuasion fall at opposite ends of a continuum in terms of the amount of effortful message evaluation (i.e., “elaboration” or thinking) they require.  Note: Central and Peripheral are analogous to S2 and S1 thinking.  The ELM tells us not only what factors (message, source) are important, but when they will be influential (depending on route) and how (consequences of attitudes).
  • Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) Central route processing (S2): High thinking: when people carefully and effortfully evaluate the info relevant to the merits of the advocated position. Peripheral route (S1): Low thinking: “Cognitive misers” rely on simpler cues (e.g., source, fear appeals) to make quick evaluations and decisions. Effects may be short-lived.
  • Sources of high versus low thinking Motivation to think is affected by:  the perceived personal relevance of the communication. When personal relevance is low, argument scrutiny is low and attitudes are affected more by peripheral cues such as source cues.  Question: When are people motivated to overcome low motivation to process political messages? Ability to think. Message repetition. Lack of external distractions.  If the argument is weak or if you don’t want people to scrutinize the message too carefully, distract them because making the message difficult to understand reduces their ability to scrutinize it and increases reliance on simple cues.
  • Petty & Cacciopo, 1981 Undergraduates were either told a proposal for taking comprehensive exams was for next year (high relevance) or 10 years later (low relevance) Arguments were either strong or weak for the exams. Source of the argument was either an expert or not. Findings:  Argument strength makes a bigger difference for students for whom the exams had high personal relevance.  Source of argument more important for students with low personal relevance.
  • Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM): Putting it all togetherMore thinking results in attitudinal formation and change that is:more permanent, more predictive of behavior, and more resistant to fading andcounterattacks.More thinking (central route) requires both: Motivation to process the message, AND Ability to process the messageOtherwise, we rely on peripheral cues and attitude change is more temporary, unstable andmore susceptible to fading and counterattacks.
  • Why does high thinking make such abig difference? High thinking:  Attitudes are based on more knowledge and are more accessible.  More confidence in one’s views.  Note: We can also become more confident and certain if we just think we are right!
  • Implications of ELM ELM as a theory of persuasion not only identifies what factors (source, etc.) influence persuasion but when they are more and less effective for persuasion. Mindless propaganda via peripheral route processing is often much easier and effective than infomercials using central route processing that requires people to think, especially when rational ignorance or S1 thinking predominates.
  • Examples of ELM Young people and health, diet and smoking messages  Motivation and personal relevance?  Persistence?  Ability to assimilate some complex messages?  Does the new attitude come to mind when making decisions?
  • Hovland’s (1953) Message-Learning(Information Processing) Approach “Who says What to Whom and How and with what Effect?”  Source of communication  Credibility (e.g., Swift Boat ads, endorsements)  Attractiveness (celebrities?)  Message characteristics  Visual images  Fear arousal  Audience characteristics
  • Source characteristicsClass discussion here goes beyondAge of Propaganda, Chs, 12-14(required reading).Here we cover additional, politicalconsiderations beyond psychologicalprinciples.
  • Additional political Judgments about trustworthiness are likely to vary across different types of messages and audiences.  Question: why was Obama’s SOTU address followed by Marco Rubio & Rand Paul? In politics, disparaging the source is a popular tactic. Why? In politics today, it’s often hard to know whether the source can be trusted. Why?
  • Examples of propaganda that focuseson the source of the messageUse a highly credible source to give weight Disparaging the source is easier thanto thin, ambiguous or confusing evidence. responding to a disagreeable message on its merits. http://www.youtube.com/wa Colin Powell making the case tch?v=EqzKKFJSPvc for invading Iraq at the UN
  • Another strategy: Sources emphasize theircredentials, but hide their conflict of interestWhat you don’t know about the source: Message Machine Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand , 2005 A PENTAGON CAMPAIGN Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks. Most of the “analysts” have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
  • Columnists (and other sources) sometimes fail to disclosewho is conflicts of interest NYT: “On Opinion Page, a Lobbys Hand Is Often Unseen”  Doug Bandow, a scholar for the libertarian Cato Institute and a columnist for the Copley News Service, resigned from both after acknowledging that he had received as much as $2,000 an article from Mr. Abramoff for writing in support of his lobbying clients, including Indian tribe casinos.  The Bush administration acknowledged this year that it had paid outside writers, including Armstrong Williams, the conservative columnist and television commentator, to promote the Education Department policy known as No Child Left Behind.  Bottom line: Columnists and other sources often fail to disclose conflicts of interest.  Scientists who fail to disclose conflict of interest: pharmaceutical and biomedical research funded by private companies.
  • Attacking the character of a candidate undermines theircredibility as a source of all their messages.Swift Vets and POWs for TruthWhat is “swiftboating”?
  • Factcheck.org, Annenberg Republican-funded Group Attacks Kerrys War Record  August 6, 2004  Updated: August 22, 2004 Ad features vets who claim Kerry "lied" to get Vietnam medals.” But other witnesses disagree -- and so do Navy records.
  • Effectiveness of “Any Questions” ad:Independents’ intentions to vote for Kerry affected most. Why?
  • Partisan News makes character attacksand counter-attacks an art form  MSNBC goes negative (on Fox)  Partisan news often undermines the credibility of traditionally trustworthy sources (e.g., mainstream news) that people use to adjudicate the veracity of changes and counter-charges.  Who can be trusted? Anyone? Anyone?
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Political endorsements
  • Source effectsQuestion: Which source characteristic is more important in politics—trust or competence?
  • Message CharacteristicsVisual imagesFear arousalOne- vs. Two-Sided Messages (P&A)
  • The 30-minute infomercial: Aperfect message?
  • Visual images: Seeing is believing?A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words?
  • FOX Irate Over Un-RetouchedSarah Palin Photo
  • Why do visual images (vividappeals) work? Hint: see P&A, ch . 19 Video image from a President Bush campaign ad entitled Tested, released Wednesday, March 3, 2004, showing the aftermath at the World Trade Center. Bushs re-election campaign is being criticized for using images from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including wreckage of the World Trade Center. (Photo/Bush-Cheney 2004
  • Summary of Fear Appeal Research• Show sufficient threat • moderate to high fear appeals are most effective (not low or too high)• Show sufficient efficacy • introducing an effective solution or course of action strengthens a fear appeal (e.g., vote for me) • when efficacy is low, the individual This Is Your Brain on Drugs may rely on defensive avoidance to lower their fear.
  • Fear Appeals and Message Acceptance:Moderate levels of fear are most effective!  Fear appeals have both facilitating and inhibiting effects  Facilitative effects at lower levels: attracts attention and interest in the message and may motivate the receiver to act to resolve the threat.  Inhibiting effects at very high levels: emotionally block the message by tuning it out, perceiving it selectively or denying the arguments outright
  • Australian anti-smoking campaign“Our quit smoking campaigns are creditedwith contributing to a 5 per cent reductionin the adult smoking rates since 2003.Thisequates to more than 180,000 fewersmokers in NSW.”
  • French ad campaign,“Smoking is harmful to your breath”
  • Anti-smoking ads are effective,but… Although…  Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year, according to the C.D.C.  Antismoking programs actually work. Big cuts: 2012: States are on track to collect a record $25.7 billion in tobacco taxes and settlement money in the current fiscal year, but they are set to spend less than 2 percent of that on prevention. Kentucky:  Ranks 40th among states in the amount of money spent to persuade people to quit or never start smoking  The state has the nations second-highest adult smoking rate, as well the highest rate of smoking-related deaths. Most alarming of all, Kentucky is encouraging more smokers: The smoking rate among high schoolers is the highest in the U.S.
  • Examples of political fear appealsLBJ, 1964 RMN, 1968 Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council
  • The Construction of a Fear Appeal I:  March, 1947: To sell the $400 million Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII:  In the words of Truman, the speech was designed to “Scare the hell out of the American people!”
  • The Construction of a Fear Appeal II: “We dont want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Iraq_Group September 5, 2002: In a WHIG meeting, chief Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson proposes the use of a "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" metaphor to sell the American public on the supposed nuclear dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.  September 7, 2002, Condoleezza Rice: "We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon…we dont want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”  October 7, President Bush: “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.  October 14, 2002: President Bush says of Saddam "This is a man that we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army." [6]  January 21, 2003: Bush says of Saddam "He has weapons of mass destruction -- the worlds deadliest weapons -- which pose a direct threat to the United States, our citizens and our friends and allies." [7]  February 5, 2003: Colin Powell addresses the United Nations, asserting that there was "no doubt in my mind" that Saddam was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear weapons.  March 19, 2003: The U.S. invades Iraq.
  • Question of how to evaluate ads’“effectiveness?”
  • Question of how to evaluateads’ “effectiveness?” Do they move the needle (voting intentions)?  The impact is usually at the margins in competitive races.  How long do the effects last? Do they influence attitudes even if they don’t affect our voting behavior? Very difficult questions to assess.  Ignore political consultants; they inflate their role.  Need a method that can assess causality in a natural environment: Field experiments  Internal and external validity.
  • “Rick Perry and His Eggheads: Inside the Brainiest Political Operation in America” From Sasha Isenbergs book, The Victory Lab. In the 2006 governor’s race in TX, four political scientists invited into Rick Perry’s war room to run experiments testing the effectiveness of: candidate appearances, TV ads, robocalls, direct mail. These were the political world’s version of randomized drug trials. ‘Moneyball’ Meets Campaigning
  • The field experiments $2 million of incumbent’s (Perry’s) television and radio advertising deployed experimentally. In each experimental media market, the launch date and volume of television advertising were randomly assigned. Tracking poll of 1,000 registered voters each day.
  • Findings: Televised ads have strongbut short-lived effects on votingpreferences.“Political ads are a bit like morphine: you need dose after dose for them tokeeping working.”
  • Summary of best research on the impact of campaign ads1. Ads matter but their impact is short-lived.2. Campaign ads matter more when: a. a candidate can outspend the opponent. b. the candidates are unfamiliar.3. Campaign ads don’t affect turnout as much as other forms of spending, such as: a. Direct contact (i.e., personal interactions with voters) matters most for GOTV. b. 2012: GOP decided direct contact wasn’t as cost- effective as direct mail flyers.
  • Implications? The effectiveness of some ads is often exaggerated. Most political ads seems to appeal to peripheral route persuasion with short-term effects.
  • Audience CharacteristicsThe impact of political propaganda depends onaudience characteristics, especially partisanshipParty Cues, MotivatedReasoning, Persuasion &Resistance
  • Politically sophisticatedpartisans In a democracy, we depend on more politically sophisticated citizens to keep elites accountable and to engage in more deliberation to develop their attitudes, but sophisticated partisans tend to:  Follow party elites  Engage in motivated reasoning This creates and reinforces party polarization and partisan misperceptions.
  • Two examples of politicalmisperceptions July, 2006: widespread support for the conspiracy theory that Bush administration officials were complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  “likely” that “[p]eople in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.” Apr 21, 2011: CBS News/ New York Times poll: 25% of all Americans incorrectly think President Obama was not born in the United States.
  • Partisan misperceptions • Democrats more likely to believe 9/11 conspiracy theory • Republicans more likely to believe “birther” myth
  • 2004, “separate realities”More than a year after the Iraq invasion, after severalreports by the U.S. govt., Republicans more likely to believe:
  • Findings of Commissions on Iraq War, WMD& al-Qaeda, prior to 2004 election 1/28/04: U.S. Iraq Survey Group inspector David Kay resigns:  stating that he believed WMD stockpiles would not be found in Iraq. "I dont think they existed," commented Kay. “It turns out that we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing. [Kay,] 3/5/04: Former chief U.N. weapons inspector declares Iraq war illegal 10/7/04: Final Iraq Survey Group (Duelfer) Report (U.S.): Iraq did not have WMD  “Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them.” June, 2004, 9/11 Commission:  "to date we have seen no evidence of a collaborative operational relationship between Iraqi government & al-Qaeda. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.
  • Misperceptions due to?1. Party Elites: spread misinformation; media fails to correct it.2. Citizens (partisans): Engage in motivated reasoning.
  • Goals in information processingand belief updating1. Accuracy goals (intuitive statistician, rational choice version): seek out and carefully consider relevant evidence to reach a correct or otherwise best conclusion. a) Bayes’ Theorem: We respond to new information the way a scientist or statistician would respond to evidence in an experiment, without bias: p(S|E) = p(E|S )p(S ) p(E)  Because our prior beliefs should not bias new information, there should be some updating or belief revision when we encounter new information inconsistent with our prior beliefs.  Normative model of belief updating.  Do people follow this model for political belief updating?
  • Goals in information processing(cont’d)2. Efficiency (cognitive misers): our prior beliefs operate as “cold” cognitions biasing the processing of new information, directing our attention, retention, recall and interpretation of information.
  • Goals in information processing(cont’d)3. Partisan goals (Motivated reasoning): a. (Talking about “partisan” in the broadest sense; having a prior committed position on an issue.) b. Tendency for people to use their reasoning powers to process new information in a biased way to support their prior beliefs. c. Even when told to be accurate, citizens are often pulled by the emotional charge of their “hot political cognitions.”  Often immediately and without intentional control, a perceived candidate, issue, group, or idea is classified as either good or bad, and in a matter of milliseconds this evaluation prompts motivated reasoning.  All political stimuli have an emotional charge.
  • Motivated reasoningTaber & Lodge “Physicists do it. Psychologists do it (Kruglanski and Webster 1996). Even political scientists do it (cites withheld to protect the guilty among us).”
  • Who is more susceptible tomotivated reasoning and when? Who? Those with more motivation & ability to defend their attitudes.  Motivation: Partisans with stronger prior attitudes have greater motivation to defend their attitudes.  Ability: More Sophisticated partisans have greater ability (knowledge) to defend their attitudes. When? The message arouses partisanship  Party or issue elites provide cues  When communications are charged with partisan conflict that challenges identities and attitudes (e.g., presidential elections).
  • How does motivated reasoning bias ourevaluation of political information?  Selective exposure: people seek out supportive arguments.  Confirmation bias: people treat evidence that supports their priors as stronger and actively counter-argue challenging evidence.  What effect? The net effect will be attitude polarization.  Q: Is MR more or less likely to occur in the contemporary political environment? Why?
  • Mechanisms of MR: Lodge & Taber1. Selective exposure: People tend to seek out information that confirms their beliefs and avoid information that is inconsistent with those views.  using a computerized information board, people —especially political sophisticates— were more likely to choose to read the arguments of sympathetic sources than to expose themselves to an opposing point of view on affirmative action and gun control.  As a result, they polarized: subjects who were most biased in their information search became more extreme in their attitudes.
  • Selective exposure
  • Partisan news
  • Mechanism #22. Confirmation & Disconfirmation biases: Partisans process information with a bias toward their pre-existing views, disparaging contradictory information while uncritically accepting information that is consistent with their beliefs  When people are asked to rate the strength of arguments, sophisticates and those with strong priors were biased in rating the arguments with which they agreed as stronger than those with which they disagreed.
  • Rate the arguments
  • MR occurs without ourcontrol or awareness! **Ps are instructed repeatedly** to “set their feelings aside,” to “rate the arguments fairly,” and to be as “objective as possible.” Attitude polarization results when people seize upon consistent evidence with little scrutiny, while dismissing out-of-hand evidence that challenges their prior attitudes. S2 “deliberating” but motivated by S1!!!
  • Lodge & Taber evidence of motivated reasoningPriorattitudes Biggerare bias Pro-attitudinal arguments tend to be rated as stronger than counter-attitudinal arguments. See largest bias for sophisticates and strong priors.
  • Health Care Misperceptions:Evidence of motivated reasoning .
  • Implications Sophisticated partisans may be more, not less, biased in their evaluations than unsophisticated partisans. Sophisticated partisans often blindly follow party elites without scrutinizing the quality of arguments.  They are more aware of what elites are saying, and have greater ability and motivation to engage in motivated reasoning. Once formed, their attitudes, which might be misinformed, resist correction.  Partisan cues can be a powerful means of getting partisans to accept new attitudes that are resistant to change.
  • Perceptions of Scientific ConsensusDan Kahan, et al. “Cultural Cognition of ScientificConsensus”Why do members of the public disagree—sharply andpersistently—about facts on which expert scientistslargely agree?Quick answer: Motivated reasoning occurs, which createspolarization
  • Study The study was administered on-line to a broadly representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adults be-tween July 20 and July 28, 2009 Measure Cultural Worldviews (next slide) Ask people whether they agree with statements reflecting scientific consensus in different policy areas Survey experiments
  • Prior Cultural Worldviews Prior beliefs: (different dimensions of lib-cons)  Individualism vs. communitarianism  “The government interferes far too much in our everyday lives”  Reverse: “The government should do more to advance societys goals, even if that means limiting the freedom and choices of individuals”  Hierarchy vs. egalitarianism  “Society as a whole has become too soft and feminine”  Reverse: “We need to dramatically reduce inequalities between the rich and the poor, whites and people of color, and men and women”
  • Do prior Cultural Worldviews predict agreement with thefollowing statements, all of which reflect scientific consensusexcept the last one? Answer? YES! “Tell me whether you think most scientific experts agree with these statements:”  (GWREAL.) “Global temperatures are increasing.  GWHUMAN. Human activity is causing global warming.  NUKE. Radioactive wastes from nuclear power can be safely disposed of in deep underground storage facilities.  GUN. Permitting adults without criminal records or histories of mental illness to carry concealed handguns in public decreases violent crime.  Note: There is a scientific consensus on all but the last statement, where there is no consensus.
  • Results: The different realities of liberals(Egalitarian - Communitarians) & conservatives(Hierarchical - Individualists)Both liberals & conservatives overestimate the degree to which scientists agree with them
  • Why do cultural liberals and culturalconservatives evaluate scientific consensus sodifferently?Most citizens don’t evaluate the scientific evidence directly, they evaluatethe perceived consensus and expertise of scientists Possible ways prior beliefs influence perceived scientific consensus (speculation):  Selective exposure: People tend to search out information consistent with their prior beliefs, which is easier to do with cable news & internet sources  Recall of instances of experts taking a position consistent with their beliefs Test with survey experiments  People evaluate scientists who disagree with their own position as less credible.
  • Experiment: Evaluate the credibility ofscientists whose research is described as eithersupporting or not supporting global warming,nuclear power & gun control. Randomly assign respondents to fictional scientist either supporting or not supporting
  • Also shown an excerpts from the scientist’s book: --Again, Respondents randomly assigned to 1 of 2 opposingexcerpts of fictional scientists.
  • Experimental Results: Evaluations of the scientist’scredibility are in the eye of the perceiver. “I believe the author is a trustworthy and knowledgeable expert on [“global warming,” ““nuclear power,” or “gun control”].What this chart shows: Cultural liberals and conservatives evaluate thescientist who agrees with them as more credible!