Week 5 notes
Week 5 notes Comm162
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Erica Evans on Sunday February 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Comm162 at Stanford University taught by Shanto Iyengar in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see Campaigns, Voting, Media in Communication Studies at Stanford University.
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Date Created: 02/07/16
Comm162 Class 9 2/3/2016 Bullock Paper: • Do voters think for themselves? • Do they use information that they receive, or do they just rely on heuristics? • Two kinds of information: heuristics (party cues etc.) and policy information • Intuition has been that people are lazy and no one pays attention. Party cues prevent people from seeking out information. • Studies show that party cues have a significant effect, but the range of effect is extremely varied. • Experimental design: Conditions à democrats supportive of a change or Republicans supportive of a change – article talking about expanding benefits (liberal) and another talking about reducing benefits (conservative) • Participants rate level of support to proposed change • If people are informed, they will draw on that information Agenda Change: • Priming effect – a logical extension of agenda setting • Accessible: If the news media is fixating on crime, that’s what comes to mind when you are watching a presidential debate • Relevant: If it’s in the news, it will seem as the logical criteria for evaluating public officials. • 1980: Iranian Hostage Crisis: Reagan vs. Carter. Carter tried to get hostages released – one week before the election the Iranians had last minute negotiations about the hostages. Carter suspends campaign activities and focuses on the hostages. But when he fails, Reagan wins. The race had been really close, but the hostage crisis created a dramatic shift in sentiment. • This is a priming effect: saturation of coverage of the hostage crisis… evaluated the candidates on this subject. • 1991: George Bush’s approval was 90% b/c he had just liberated Kuwait. But Bill Clinton was audacious enough to run against him. Most other Democrats did not dare to enter the race. But eventually people forgot about Operation Desert Storm and the economy became the story so Clinton was able to win. • Other examples Framing: • The way you interpret a picture is based on the frame around it • How do the news media present issues and outcomes? Comm162 Class 8 2/1/2016 Understanding Public Opinion -‐ How do uninformed people make sense of politics? -‐ Americans are really uninformed compared to others – not really acting rationally -‐ Can we predict what people do? -‐ Attitudes vs. Opinions -‐ Opinion: More concrete position on one issue, more dynamic -‐ Attitude: Broader, more diffuse, deep-‐seated, not likely to change over time -‐ Cognitive (belief) -‐ Affective (evaluation): the emotional, liking component -‐ Behavioral (action): are people going to actually act on their opinions? It turns out that attitudes and behaviors are only weakly affected in reality -‐ Intensity/salience– how much do you care? Evangelicals might care a lot because their salvation is at stake, but most Americans don’t feel very intensely about politics. -‐ Connectivity – does this person prescribe to a certain ideology? Conservative ideology encompasses abortion, immigration, terrorism etc. It is a package; opinions are predictable. But for most Americans, connectivity is minimal. -‐ Informational content (or just stereotypes) – representative government relies on an informed voting public. But most people do not research policies in order to make an educated vote, they just base their opinions on stereotypes. Theory of Rational Ignorance -‐ If the world is relatively peaceful, then there is no reason to become super knowledgeable about politics. -‐ If people were rational, no one would vote because in a large-‐scale system, you have no effect on what happens. (But people feel a duty to do so) How do voters make decisions? -‐ People don’t need to be well informed. There are inexpensive substitutes. -‐ Psychological short-‐cuts = heuristics 1) Party: people grow up with one party and always vote for it 2) Availability: whatever information you have in front of you will influence your vote. Ex: Recent Bias: whatever you saw most recently will affect you. Or, whatever issue is most salient in the world at the moment, will be the one by which you judge the candidate. 3) Competence: we tend to make inferences about whether or not they are good leaders, or knowledgeable about politics. Ex: Trump has run a successful business, so he is obviously competent! 4) Name recognition: people are much more likely to vote for someone they know. This is why incumbents always do so well. 5) “Likability heuristic” Liking or disliking groups that support a candidate or ballot measure: if the issue is car insurance, the bad guys will be the insurance companies. So no one will vote for the side that the companies support. -‐ Popkin’s “gut rationality” -‐ Ex: Gerald Ford in 1966: tried to eat a tamale with the corn husk on it, but this showed that he did not care about Latinos. People make sweeping generalizations from specific actions. -‐ Popkin’s “fire alarms”: people have 2 gears. Normally they don’t care, but when there is a huge tragedy or crisis, people become more motivated to acquire information. -‐ Police patrolling model: the opposite of fire alarm. Evaluations of Elected Officials: -‐ Voters are not fools (Key) – you can’t just trick people into electing you -‐ Voters administer “rough justice” (Fiorina) – if you screw up as an elected official, you will get thrown out -‐ Accountability and retrospective voting: Reagan said, are you better off today than you were four years ago? -‐ In contrast, prospective claims have no sway at all. There is so much uncertainty about the future; people have difficulty making these comparisons. It won’t help to say, in four years you will be better off than you are now! -‐ Egocentric voting: What’s in it for me? -‐ Sociotropic voting: How has this candidate helped society as a whole? -‐ Surprisingly, people value sociotropic voting over egocentric. They are not just voting for themselves, but trying to choose what is best for society as a whole. Counter-‐argument to retrospective voting: -‐ Achen and Bartels “blind retrospection” `on” -‐ No matter what happened, if people are upset they will blame the government. For example: blaming a government for shark attacks or a drought. Physical appearance: -‐ Attractiveness really matters -‐ Familiarity -‐ Similarity -‐ Jeremy Bailensen research: creating blends of photos with your own face and candidate’s face. Attracts people because it shows them subtle cues of physical similarity. -‐ Gender as a political cue. In this country, there are a lot of gender stereotypes that matter for the world of politics. The Commander and Chief concept is a masculine-‐dominated role. In contrast, a woman who is more naturally caring might better solve issues of malnutrition. Partisan identity: -‐ Political socialization. There is a gradual political learning process that starts when you are very young. -‐ The persistence of early learning: what happens at age 5 stays with you for the rest of your life. Once a democrat, always a democrat. -‐ Jennings and Stoker: have tracked the same people over 50 years à very good data that party ID does not change -‐ Generational model: Bennington study à People who became adults in 1930, when the world is thrown into economic crisis. The depression generation’s political views were profoundly impacted. Today those people are very elderly, but they are probably still strongly democrat. -‐ Socialization agents: family-‐parents, peer groups, civic education-‐schooling, mass media, direct experience Student Presentations à Going without Data: Information shortcuts: -‐ Chapter 3 from the Reasoning Voter (Popkin) -‐ For voters without all of the information on policy, they will look for short-‐ cuts -‐ Uncertainty about policies is pervasive among voters. Campaigns are designed to address this uncertainty. But campaigns are limited by short-‐cuts voters are using like party identity. -‐ Mass communication: hypodermic needle theory à will inject into all people and everyone will believe the same thing. People were worried about this. -‐ 1940’s they realized that the hypodermic needle theory doesn’t happen. The mass media delivers information to opinion leaders who disseminate the information to others. Today, these opinion leaders might be journalists who interpret and analyze the information. -‐ Relying on opinion leaders or experts is another heuristic. -‐ Party identification: the major shortcut for voting decisions. -‐ Default values: used to figure out what your party ID is. Evaluate ideology à what does this party stand for? -‐ Also, past performance and the economy are used to evaluate parties -‐ Party image and comparative assessment: during a campaign, candidates stress the things their party is known for. Republicans are tough on crime etc. -‐ ^ Theory of issue voter-‐ship -‐ Are they competent? à Campaign behavior is a shortcut to assess competence. -‐ What are the demographics? à Gender, religion, ethnicity, where are they from? -‐ What about their character or sincerity? à How is their family/private life? -‐ When do voters use heuristics? All the time! Elite Party Polarization: affects on public opinion formation -‐ Elite polarization: high levels of homogeneity within parties, distance between parties. -‐ Framing – how a speaker chooses to emphasize a subject -‐ Partisan cues: motivated reasoning theory à people seek out information that confirms their prior beliefs. Dismiss evidence that is inconsistent with their beliefs. -‐ Experiment: survey about drilling for oil and gas and the DREAM act. People were asked to identify their party. Then they were presented with different frames of an issue and asked to choose. -‐ In a polarized partisan environment, partisan motivated reasoning overwhelms all substance -‐ When presented with opposing frames of the same strength, opinions are not affected. -‐ When no polarization is present, opinion moves in the direction of how strong the framing is. -‐ Polarization intensifies the impact of party endorsements on opinions. -‐ People are less inclined to consider ‘strong’ arguments when party polarization is present.
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