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  • Proponents don’t call it Obamacare. KY State Fair signup: Affordable Care Act vs. Obamacare
  • Ever get into a political argument with someone who you know you could never move a milimeter? An uncle, a friend? Parents?
  • 474 2014 persuasion and propaganda up

    1. 1. PERSUASION, PROPAGANDA & ATTITUDE CHANGE: THEORIES AND APPLICATIONS PS 474 Mark Peffley
    2. 2. Attendance question: Have you purchased the required books for the course? 1. Yes 2. No
    3. 3. Today  Examples of political ads and propaganda, Definitions  Theories of attitude change and persuasion  Source, Message & audience characteristics
    4. 4. Before turning to politicalpropaganda, a few examples of creative & effective ads
    5. 5. Turn-offs: Oscar Pistorius ‘negligent,’ but not guilty of premeditated murder
    6. 6. Images in the news:
    7. 7. 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
    8. 8. Other 2012 ads
    9. 9. “Classic” examples of political propaganda “Daisy ad,” 1964 (the power of S1 thinking) Recent study: More negative ads by Democratic Party; negative ads contribute to political learning.
    10. 10. Examples of political propaganda Willie Horton ad, 1988 RNC Turnstile ad, 1988 Jesse Helms "Hands" ad, 1990 Harold Ford Jr not for Tennessee, 2006
    11. 11. Are these examples of propaganda too?  http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-27- 2012/indecision-2012---how-is-it-that-mitt-romney-hasn- t-crushed-this-guy-already- (Rick Santorum)  http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-february-28- 2012/i-can-t-believe-it-got-better- (Fox: Numbers aren’t real)  Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge
    12. 12. II. What is propaganda? Examples Definitions
    13. 13. Definitions Pratkanis & 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 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.
    14. 14. More Definitions Page & 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
    15. 15. Note: Schools aren’t only in the education 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.
    16. 16. Education, Misleading or Manipulation? Texas Board Others’ Views  Christian activist on the Texas board: “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”  Students required to evaluate the contributions of significant Americans. The names proposed includedThurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster except Kennedy, who was voted down.  “Many of us recognize that Judeo-Christian principles were the basis of our country and that many of our founding documents had a basis in Scripture. As we try to promote a better understanding of the Constitution, federalism, the separation of the branches of government, the basic rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, I think it will become evident to students that the founders had a religious motivation.”  U.S. Historian: Were some of the founders Christian--yes but some were deists and some agnostic. The basic principles of the Constitution were to create a new nation based in democratic Enlightenment principles, not religious principles. Indeed, Enlightenment philosophy is the antithesis of religious dogma.  Benjamin Franklin: “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.“  President John Adams: "Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.“  President Thomas Jefferson: "I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions. . . . I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrine.“  President James Madison ("Father of the Constitution" and 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.“
    17. 17. Education, Misleading or Manipulation on Climate Change? Texas McGraw Hill Science Text (Grade 6) Excerpt: The Problem: • Scientists do not disagree about what is causing climate change, the vast majority (97%) of climate papers and actively publishing climatologists (again 97%) agree that human activity is responsible. • The Heartland Institute is an ideologically driven advocacy group that receives funding from Big Tobacco and polluters and it is pitted against a Nobel Peace Prize winning scientific body (IPCC).
    18. 18. McGraw Hill Education, World Cultures & Geography [Teacher Version] (Grade 6) Is the earth flat? Can pigs fly? Some scientists disagree.
    19. 19. III. Why Do We live in an Age of Propaganda? Pratkanis & Aronson, The Age of Propaganda
    20. 20. A. The Essential Modern Dilemma: Persuasion as free exchange of ideas & debate vs. “mindless propaganda”
    21. 21. B. Why mindless propaganda?
    22. 22. Announcements  1st written assignment posted  Study Qs for Age of Propaganda, 2nd ed. posted  (Note: skip chs. 15-16, 22, 26-27, 29-32, 34-35, 40.  Do not skip chapters: 12-14 & 39.
    23. 23. IV. Theories of attitude change: Hovland’smessage-learning (information processing) approach Cognitive response approach Elaboration likelihood model (ELM)
    24. 24. I. Carl Hovland’s (1953) Message Learning (Information Processing) Approach to Attitude Change: Hovland identified the factors and the (learning) process by which they influence attitude change. Factors: “Who Says What To Whom and How and with What Effect?” Who = Source characteristics What = Message Whom = Audience How = Medium Effect = Persistence
    25. 25. Hovland’s Approach: Process:“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 and information programs, especially audience resistance to persuasive communications and methods of overcoming such resistance. Source effects. One-sided versus two-sided messages.
    26. 26. Hovland example: The Influence of Source Credibility on Communication Effectiveness, 1951. Randomly assign Ss to: 1) Positive & Negative positions, and 2) High & low credibility sources. If we were doing this study today, what sources and issues might we use?
    27. 27. Hovland results: People more likely to accept the position of high credibility sources, on average (There was more to his article than this, of course).
    28. 28. Hovland’s Approach: Limitations  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.  Question: 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 candidates
    29. 29. II. 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 net favorability of the thoughts is a good predictor of the success of the persuasion. Anthony Greenwald Now studies implicit attitudes we are not aware of
    30. 30. 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.  Political examples? Healthcare?  Persuasion techniques in Age of Propaganda: Inoculation & Forewarning
    31. 31. Cognitive Response Approach: Limitations  Still doesn’t deal with mindless propaganda. In fact, the CR approach 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.
    32. 32. III. 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 (Kahneman, Thinking: Fast & Slow).  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). Petty now studies implicit attitudes Cacciopo now studies neuroscience.
    33. 33. Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)  Central route processing (S2): High thinking: when people carefully and effortfully evaluate the info relevant to the merits of the message.  Persistence of change.  Peripheral route (S1): Low thinking: “Cognitive misers” rely on simpler cues (e.g., source, fear appeals) to make quick evaluations and decisions.  Short-lived change.
    34. 34. Sources of high versus low thinking When do we think about the message? Need two things:  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. Higher ability if: 1) Message repetition, 2) Lack of external distractions, 3) Knowledge.  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.
    35. 35. 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.
    36. 36. Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM): Putting it all together More thinking results in attitude formation and change that is: • more permanent, more predictive of behavior, and more resistant to fading and counterattacks. But, 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 and more susceptible to fading and counterattacks.
    37. 37. Why does high thinking make such a big 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
    38. 38. Implications of ELM  ELM as a theory of persuasion not only identifies what factors (e.g., source) 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.
    39. 39. Examples of ELM  Healthcare arguments  Source:  Message:  Easy (Death panels, socialized medicine) vs. Hard (complex policy)  Audience ability and motivation: knowledge, partisanship, personal relevance  Peripheral cues:
    40. 40. 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
    41. 41. Source characteristics Class discussion here goes beyond Age of Propaganda, Chs, 12-14 (required reading). Here we cover additional, political considerations beyond psychological principles.
    42. 42. Additional political considerations  Judgments about trustworthiness are likely to vary across different types of messages and audiences.  Foreign policy versus domestic policy.  Foreign policy messages: Obama’s foreign policy messages versus 9/11 under Bush.  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?
    43. 43. Examples of propaganda that focuses on the source of the message Use a highly credible source to give weight to thin, ambiguous or confusing evidence. Disparaging the source is easier than responding to a disagreeable message on its merits. Colin Powell making the case for invading Iraq at the UN http://www.youtube.com/wa tch?v=EqzKKFJSPvc
    44. 44. Another strategy: Sources emphasize their credentials (credibility), but hide their conflict of interest (trustworthiness) NYT: What 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. But we aren’t told that.
    45. 45. Columnists (and other sources) sometimes fail to disclose conflicts of interest EX1: Scientists who fail to disclose conflict of interest: pharmaceutical and biomedical research funded by private companies. EX2: NYT: “On Opinion Page, a Lobby's 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.
    46. 46. Attacking the character of a candidate undermines their credibility as a source of all their messages. Swift Vets and POWs for Truth What is “swiftboating”?
    47. 47. Politico, 2012: Verdict is in: Obama levels more personal attacks 2012 Obama ads argued that there's something fundamentally wrong with his opponent. Of course, in his first 4 years, Obama was subjected to so many personal assaults from the right, on issues such as whether he is lying about his place of birth, his religion or the content of his college transcripts.
    48. 48. Swiftboating ads were largely untrue but effective for Independents.  Factcheck.org, Annenberg on Swiftboating  Republican-funded Group Attacks Kerry's 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.
    49. 49. Swiftboating worked. Effectiveness of “Any Questions” ad: Independents’ intentions to vote for Kerry affected most. Why?
    50. 50. Celebrity endorsements
    51. 51. Celebrity endorsements
    52. 52. Political endorsements
    53. 53. Source effects Question: Which source characteristic is more important in politics—trust or competence?
    54. 54. Message Characteristics Visual images Fear arousal One- vs. Two-Sided Messages (P&A)
    55. 55. The 30-minute infomercial: A perfect message?
    56. 56. Visual images: Seeing is believing? A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words?
    57. 57. FOX Irate Over Un-Retouched Sarah Palin Photo
    58. 58. Why do visual images (vivid appeals) 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. Bush's 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
    59. 59. 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 may rely on defensive avoidance to lower their fear. This Is Your Brain on Drugs
    60. 60. Responses to fear appeals in health research: Fear is good  If people view a threat as serious and relevant (e.g., “I’m susceptible to contracting a terrible disease”), they become scared. Their fear motivates them to take some sort of action—any action—that will reduce their fear.  Best ways to create fear: magnify the severity of the threat (i.e., the magnitude of harm) and references to the likelihood of experiencing the threat with vivid language and pictures.  Question: will people act to control the danger of the threat (by avoiding risky behavior) or just control their fear about the threat (through denial, avoidance, etc.)?  If people don’t think the recommended response works . Or think they aren’t able to do the recommended response, they are motivated to control their fear and focus on eliminating their fear through  denial (e.g., “I’m not at risk for getting skin cancer, it won’t happen to me”),  defensive avoidance (e.g., “This is just too scary, I’m simply not going to think about it”), or  reactance (e.g., “They’re just trying to manipulate me, I’m going to ignore them”).
    61. 61. Fear Appeals and Message Acceptance: Moderate levels of fear are most effective  Fear appeals have both facilitating and inhibiting effects. Add these two effects together and you get the red line of actual 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
    62. 62. Edinburgh, Scotland
    63. 63. Australian anti-smoking campaign “Our quit smoking campaigns are credited with contributing to a 5 per cent reduction in the adult smoking rates since 2003.This equates to more than 180,000 fewer smokers in NSW.”
    64. 64. French ad campaign, “Smoking is harmful to your breath”
    65. 65. 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, 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 nation's 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.
    66. 66. Examples of political fear appeals LBJ, 1964 RMN, 1968 Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council
    67. 67. 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 ”
    68. 68. The Construction of a Fear Appeal II: “We don't 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 don't 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 world's 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.
    69. 69. Fear appeals were followed with optimistic assessments of the risk of going to war  How Someone Always Wrong Is Always on TV
    70. 70. Obama & ISIS  Reluctant to use fear?  “He is ambivalent, and I think it shows,” Jennifer Shelton- Armstrong, a 45- year-old Democrat in Mission Viejo, California, said in a follow-up interview. “There is no clear plan.”
    71. 71. Effectiveness of Political Ads
    72. 72. Just how effective are typical political ads in elections?  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?  Tough to answer.  Political consultants inflate their effectiveness. Why?  Need a scientific method to assess causality in a natural environment: Field experiments  Internal and external validity.
    73. 73. “Rick Perry and His Eggheads: Inside the Brainiest Political Operation in America”  From Sasha Isenberg's 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
    74. 74. 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.
    75. 75. Findings: Televised ads have strong but short-lived effects on voting preferences. “Political ads are a bit like morphine: you need dose after dose for them to keeping working.”
    76. 76. More research on effectiveness of ads  Strong but short-lived  Campaign ads matter more when a candidate can outspend the opponent.
    77. 77. Implications?  The effectiveness of some ads is exaggerated.  Most political ads seem to appeal to peripheral route persuasion with short-term effects.
    78. 78. The impact of political propaganda depends on audience characteristics, especially partisanship Party Cues, Motivated Reasoning, Persuasion & Resistance
    79. 79. Political Misperceptions, Cognitive Dissonance, Motivated Reasoning, and Resistance to Persuasion Misinformation can be worse than no information
    80. 80. Two examples of partisan misperceptions  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.
    81. 81. Two examples of partisan misperceptions • Democrats more likely to believe 9/11 conspiracy theory • Republicans more likely to believe birther myth
    82. 82. 2004, “separate realities” More than a year after the Iraq invasion, after several reports by the U.S. govt., Republicans more likely to believe:
    83. 83. 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 don't 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.
    84. 84. Misperceptions due to? 1. Elites: spread misinformation; media fails to correct it. 2. Citizens (partisans): Engage in motivated reasoning.
    85. 85. We are rationalizing animals (Ch 4)  Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger)  Cognitive dissonance is a state of tension and discomfort that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent (e.g., “Smoking is a dumb thing to do because it could kill me” and “I smoke two packs a day”). Resolution:  “I’ll quit tomorrow (when I’m older).”  “It helps me lose weight.”  “I’ll beat the odds.”  “I smoke filtered cigarettes.”  “We all have to go sometime.”  “Hack, hack, hack: would you please put that cig in my tracheotomy hole?”
    86. 86. Cognitive dissonance examples  Seekers cult  Post-decision bolstering when options were close  Self-justification: “I did not have sex with that woman” “I am not a crook,”  Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts  Bush, 3/06: "More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong," said Mr. Bush. "Yet, there is no peace, there's no honor, and there's no security in retreat.“  More powerful and dangerous than lying: Doing something stupid or bad was the best thing I could have done. In fact, come to think of it, it was the right thing. “There was nothing else I could have done.” “Actually, it was a brilliant solution to the problem.” “I was doing what was best for the nation.” “Those bastards deserved what they got.” “I’m entitled.”  LBJ had a remarkable capacity to convince himself that whatever the most politically expedient position was at the time, it had always been his principled position, was the only true position and his enemies were against the truth. Impervious to self-correction: Vietnam quagmire.  Challenges rational choice view that people make decisions based on information and pressures of which they are aware.
    87. 87. Motivated reasoning: Who, When, How, with what Implications? Ziva Kunda, social psychologist Taber & Lodge, political scientists
    88. 88. Goals in information processing and belief updating 1. 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?
    89. 89. Goals in information processing 2. Efficiency (cognitive misers): our prior beliefs operate as “cold” cognitions, biasing the processing of new information, by directing our attention, retention, recall and interpretation of information.  One source of bias in perceptions & judgment.
    90. 90. Goals in information processing 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.
    91. 91. Political concepts in memory associated with affect
    92. 92. Examples:  Has the national economy gotten better or worse over the last year?  A relatively objective judgment, not like a candidate’s personal characteristics  But, members of the president’s party almost always have rosier perceptions of the economy than members of the opposition party.  International:  Are there WMD, was Hussein collaborating with Al Qaida?
    93. 93. Who is more susceptible to motivated reasoning and when?  Who? Those with more motivation & ability to defend their attitudes.  Partisans with stronger prior attitudes have greater motivation to defend their attitudes.  More Sophisticated partisans have greater ability (knowledge) to defend their attitudes.  When? The message arouses partisanship  Party or issue elites provide cues  Message promotes a defensive response: When communications are charged with partisan conflict that challenges identities and attitudes (e.g., presidential elections).
    94. 94. How does motivated reasoning bias our evaluation of political information?  Even though participants in their experiments are instructed repeatedly to “set their feelings aside,” to “rate the arguments fairly,” and to be as “objective as possible”…  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 current political environment? Why?
    95. 95. Mechanisms of MR: Lodge & Taber 1. 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, 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.
    96. 96. Selective exposure
    97. 97. Evidence: Lodge & Taber 2. 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.  **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
    98. 98. Rate the arguments
    99. 99. Lodge & Taber evidence of motivated reasoning Prior attitudes are Bigger bias Pro-attitudinal arguments tend to be rated as stronger than counter-attitudinal arguments. See largest bias for sophisticates and strong priors.
    100. 100. Health Care Misperceptions: Evidence of motivated reasoning .
    101. 101. 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.
    102. 102. Gaines et al. “Partisan Motivation and Opinion on Iraq” How did different partisan groups respond to the changing realities in Iraq?
    103. 103. How did Republicans & Democrats become so polarized on the Iraq war?  Did they see different facts, ignore reality?  Or were their interpretations of the facts radically different because they engaged in partisan reasoning?
    104. 104. Partisan polarization in support for Iraq War, 2003-2007
    105. 105. Perceptions of Scientific Consensus Dan Kahan, et al. “Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus” Why do members of the public disagree—sharply and persistently—about facts on which expert scientists largely agree? Quick answer: Motivated reasoning occurs, which creates polarization
    106. 106. Why do liberals and conservatives evaluate scientific consensus so differently? Most citizens don’t evaluate the scientific evidence directly, they evaluate the perceived consensus and expertise of scientists  Possible ways prior beliefs influence perceived consensus:  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  Perceptions of “expert” credibility  When people encounter scientists whose evidence conflicts with their beliefs, they have a low opinion of their credibility
    107. 107. Perceptions of scientific consensus  “Tell me whether you think most scientific experts agree with these statements:”  Global temperatures are increasing.  Human activity is causing global warming.  Radioactive wastes from nuclear power can be safely disposed of in deep underground storage facilities.  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.
    108. 108. Experiment: Evaluate the credibility of scientists whose research is described as either supporting or not supporting global warming, nuclear power & gun control.
    109. 109. Read book excerpts of fictional scientists: -- Respondents randomly assigned to 1 of 2 opposing excerpts of fictional scientists.
    110. 110. Experimental Results: Evaluations of the scientist’s credibility are in the eye of the perceiver. What this chart should show: Liberals and conservatives evaluate the scientist who agrees with them as more credible
    111. 111. Postscript: Scientific Consensus  Global temperatures are increasing.  Human activity is causing global warming.  NUKE. Radioactive wastes from nuclear power can be safely disposed of in deep underground storage facilities.  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.
    112. 112. Postscript II: Counter-example  Why have attitudes on gay marriage changed so dramatically in the last decade?  2004: GOP strategy to mobilize religious right by placing constitutional amendments on the ballot  2012: Amendments are being struck down and public support for gay marriage has increased dramatically.

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