Political Psychology

Definition of Political Psychology
An application of what is known about human psychology to the study of politics.
Cognitive Psychology
The study of mental processes such as attention, language, memory, and perception.
Definition of Science (Psychology)
A systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
A type of thinking that depending on the context, might include generalized explanations of how nature works, or even how divine.
Supposition(s) or proposed explanation(s) made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. Hypotheses are typically worded as X causes Y, or X is associated with greater or lesser levels of Y, where X is the independent variable and Y is dependent variable.
Scientific Method
observations, hypothesis/theory, experiment (test), revision of theory
Dependent vs. Independent variable
Independent variable is generally thought of as the variable that causes something else.
Dependent variable is generally thought of the things that is caused by something else; the thing that depends on some other factor
Causal v. Correlational relationships
Correlational: Relationship between two or more things which changes (variables) can be described. How closely two sets of data are related.
Causal: Act or processing of causing; the act or agency, which produces the effect. A relationship between two things exists if one occurs because of the other.
What makes a survey scientific?
Systematic effort to collect data for the analysis of some aspect of a group or area
Strengths/Weakness of Scientific Survey (observational data)
Strengths: External validity - generalized inferences about some aspect of a group
Weakness: Internal validity - causal inferences about some aspect of a group
Simple Random Sampling
the purest form of probability sampling. Each member of the population has an equal and known chance of being selected. When there are very large populations, it is often difficult or impossible to identify every member of the population, so the pool of available subjects becomes biased.
Systematic Sampling
After the required sample size has been calculated, every Nth record is selected from a list of population members. As long as the list does not contain any hidden order, this sampling method is as good as the random sampling method.
Stratified Sampling
reduces sampling error. A stratum is a subset of the population that share at least one common characteristic. Examples of stratums might be males and females, or managers and non-managers. The researcher first identifies the relevant stratums and their actual representation in the population. Random sampling is then used to select a sufficient number of subjects from each stratum. "Sufficient" refers to a sample size large enough for us to be reasonably confident that the stratum represents the population. Stratified sampling is often used when one or more of the stratums in the population have a low incidence relative to the other stratums.
Convenience Sampling
sample is selected because they are convenient. This nonprobability method is often used during preliminary research efforts to get a gross estimate of the results, without incurring the cost or time required to select a random sample.
Judgment Sampling
The researcher selects the sample based on judgment. This is usually an extension of convenience sampling. For example, a researcher may decide to draw the entire sample from one "representative" city, even though the population includes all cities
Quota Sampling
Like stratified sampling, the researcher first identifies the stratums and their proportions as they are represented in the population. Then convenience or judgment sampling is used to select the required number of subjects from each stratum. This differs from stratified sampling, where the stratums are filled by random sampling.
Snowball Sampling
Rare characteristics, relies on referrals from initial subjects to generate additional subjects. While this technique can dramatically lower search costs, it comes at the expense of introducing bias because the technique itself reduces the likelihood that the sample will represent a good cross section from the population.
A scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.
Characteristics of Experiments:
Types of Experiments:
· Post-test only, control group design -
o Group 1RA: Elderly Stereotypes Posttest
o Group 2RA: Control Posttest

· Pre-test/post-test design (no control group) -

· Pre-test/post-test, control group design -
o Group 1RA: Pretest Treatment Posttest
o Group 2RA: Pretest Control Posttest
Types of Data
Content analysis
In-depth interviews
Participant observation
Archival research
Personality traits (Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness to experience):
1. Openness to experience - (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
2. Conscientiousness - (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)
3. Extraversion - (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
4. Agreeableness - (friendly/compassionate vs. cold/unkind)
5. Neuroticism - (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident).
Childhood socialization (impressionable years)
Children often have hazy view about government, pre-school basic identification
Early Childhood: Children notice government entering school; positive; general
Children develop advanced attitudes about government; division b/w officials
Begin to understand citizenship; largely uncritical period
De-idolization; period of teens; influences include parents; early ed. enforces nationalism
Parental Transmission of Political Attitudes (Mother vs. Father)
Overall; partisanship from parents, mainly from politically-active mothers.
Communication regarding partisanship may occur if politically active household
**Jennings & Langston (1969): "Mothers v. Fathers: Formation of political orientation
Assists/influences on children's PID
Macro vs. Micro
Macro-level: How do politics and systems inculcate norms and practices in citizens?
Micro-level: What are the patterns and processes by which individuals engage in political development and learning?
Michigan Model of PID
Theory: Originates from parental socialization.
· Parental transmission of direction of party id
· Party id as an "affective tie"
Understand Genetic Inheritance of Political Attitudes
Alford, Funk, and Hibbing
Most general; evaluative valence of feelings
Displacement pathology
Emotionally charged inputs overstimulate the individual, distort judgment, and inhibit or displace reason and evaluation. Reasoning requires calm deliberation.
Distraction pathology
Emotional symbols distract the mind from weighing relative evidence and draw attention to irrelevant matters. This says that emotion changes, say, the kinds of evidence we draw on, and the considerations that we bring to bear on a judgment.
Intransigence pathology
Such an extremity of belief that the person is unwilling to compromise or to adjust their belief in the light of new information. This is stubbornness.
Self-absorption pathology
Individuals in a state of anxiousness and emotional arousal will rely heavily on instincts for base self-interest and primordial self-preservation. These individuals will emphasize self-interest over collective or sociotropic interests when evaluating political alternatives.
Principles of emotion: Automaticity
Evaluation is nearly automatic: "We evaluate each other constantly, we evaluate each others' behavior, and we evaluate the motives and consequences of their behavior."
Principles of emotion: Primacy
Affective reactions are primary. They occur before cognitive reactions.
Principles of emotion: Inescapability
Affective reactions are inescapable: they can't always be voluntarily controlled. Affective judgments tend to be irrevocable. Primary effects in impression formation, "Affect often persists after a complete invalidation of its original cognitive basis..."
Principles of emotion: Difficult to verbalize
Affective judgments are difficult to verbalize. "instantaneous and automatic" reactions that are often communicated nonverbally (facial expressions, evolutionary—animals). "if affect is not always transformed into semantic content but is instead often encoded in, for example, visceral or muscular symbols, we would expect information contained in feelings to be acquired, organized, categorized, represented, and retrieved somewhat differently than information having direct verbal referents."
Principles of emotion: Intuition
Affective responses give us additional information that we can't necessarily verbalize or that we're not even necessarily aware of.
Card deck/lesion example results:
o Patients with brain damage performed worse than control patients did and they didn't exhibit much stress or nervousness (as monitored by skin conductance response; this is the measurement of emotion).
o Control patients exhibited stress when they thought about picking up bad-deck cards and even before they could articulate their strategy (this is the intuition part).
o Normals began to choose advantageously before they realized which strategy worked best, whereas prefrontal patients continued to choose disadvantageously even after they knew the correct strategy...in normal individuals, nonconscious biases guide behavior before conscious knowledge does."
Converse - Non-attitudes theory: A mass public contains a significant proportions of people who have no information about a particular dimension of controversy, and offer meaningless opinions that vary randomly in direction during repeated trials over time. So, large portions of people have no meaningful beliefs.
Rationality of Voting
Individuals choose the best option according to their preferences and the constraints they face; derive expressive benefits; intrinsic values; social values.
· Strict preference v. weak preference
· Transitivity: If A is preferred to B, and B to C, then A is preferred to C.
· Decision Theory v. Game Theory
· "If all arguments against voting were so persuasive, the whole system would collapse."
Social Norm
Individual and group judgments in ambiguous situations.
By calling attention to some matters while ignoring others, television news influences the standards by which governments; presidents, policies, and candidates for public office are judged
By covering some issues and ignoring others, the media influence which issues people view as important.
· Audience Agenda-setting:
· Institutional Agenda-setting: Media attention can trigger policy action. Investigative reports alter legislative agendas even when public opinion doesn't change.
Process by which a communication source defines and constructs a political issue or public controversy.
· A Frame: A central organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events, weaving a connection among them. The frame suggests what the controversy is about, the essence of the issue.
Episodic Framing
The dominant form of broadcast news coverage - issues depicted as particular instances: homeless person, single mother, particular acts of crime instead of overall trends in crime
Thematic Framing
Embeds issues in some general or societal context - historical trends in unemployment or poverty; news accompanied by expert analysis
Equivalency Frames
Equivalency frames offer "different, but logically equivalent phrases," which cause individuals to alter their preferences.
· Ex. Outbreak of unusual disease, choice between Survival Frame (who would be saved) v. Mortality Frame (who will die)
· Framing issue: People are risk adverse
Emphasis Frames
Emphasis frames offer qualitatively different yet potentially relevant considerations which individuals use to make judgments.
· Recipes for opinion; comprehension; "nonattitudes" problem
· **Nelson, Clawson & Oxley (1997): "Media framing of a civil liberties conflict and its effect on tolerance"
Attribution Theory
Seeks to explain how/why people make causal attributions, or the reasons we give for our own/others behaviors

· Two types of attributions:
o Personal: Explanations in terms of personal characteristics
o Situational: Explanations in terms of situational factors
Fundamental Attribution Error
When we overestimate the power of the person and underestimate the power of the situation
· People make these errors because a situation is not salient for the behavior of others except for themselves.
· People tend to attribute their successes to dispositional factors, and their failures to situational factors.
o When making a personal v. situational attribution, people take into account:
§ Consistency
§ Distinctiveness
§ Consensus
Elaboration Likelihood Model
Central route and the peripheral route for taking in information.

Central Route: Persuasion results from a person's careful and thoughtful consideration of the information. The resulting attitude change will be relatively enduring, resistant, and predictive of behavior.

Peripheral Route: Persuasion results from a person's association with positive or negative cues in the stimulus or making a simple inference about the merits of the advocated position. The cues received by the individual under the peripheral route are generally unrelated to the logical quality of the stimulus. These cues will involve factors such as the credibility or attractiveness of the sources of the message, or the production quality of the message.
Memory based Model
the memory-based processing model postulates that voters typically possess different and often conflicting beliefs about political objects, public policy issues in particular, rather than fixed "true" attitudes.7) Specifically, when they are asked to
evaluate a political object, their evaluation is constructed off the top of their head, reflecting the considerations that happen to come to mind on the spot. Voter's ideas are essentially equivalent to non-attitudes because they are so volatile.
Heuristic - Informational shortcut
· Party ID
· Party ID associated with positive outcomes
· The affect heuristic is typically used while judging the risks and benefits of something, depending on the positive or negative feelings that people associate with a stimulus.
· It is the equivalent of "going with your gut". If their feelings towards an activity are positive, then people are more likely to judge the risks as low and the benefits high. On the other hand, if their feelings towards an activity are negative, they are more likely to perceive the risks as high and benefits low.
Zaller (one sided and two sided communication)
Contextual changes in the flow of information correlated with shifts in public opinion- one sided
two-sided information flow that has relative equal intensity from both sides should lead to a polarized public
Online processing and how it differs from memory based processing
According to the online processing model, people update their attitudes toward political objects online whenever they encounter new information about them. In effect, it assumes that voters maintain a running tally (summary evaluative feeling) for political objects in long-term memory, even if they forget what originally influenced them. Conversely, the memory-based processing model postulates that voters typically possess different and often conflicting beliefs about political objects, public policy issues in particular, rather than fixed "true"attitudes.7) Specifically, when they are asked to evaluate a political object, their evaluation is constructed off the top of their head, reflecting the considerations that happen to come to mind on the spot.
Online= tally, Memory= different and conflicting beliefs
Psychological Definitions of Race and Gender
Race: A groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to by socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them. NO REAL BIOLOGICAL MEANING.

Gender: Socially constructed differences often coinciding with sex.

How do race and gender differ?:
· Political motives & stereotypes
· Political behavior
Findings of Huddy et. al. paper on female candidates
Feminine stereotypes characterize women as nurturing and sensitive -qualities generally not valued in political leadership
Conclusions of Alford, Funk, and Hibbing Paper
Hypothesis of study: Political attitudes will be heavily heritable
· Hypothesis of study: Party identification will be influenced more by parental socialization than by genetic inheritance but that this pattern will be reversed for political attitudes with inheritance playing a role at least as large as the shared environment.
· Political attitudes have genetic as well as environmental causes.
· Literature on political socialization has long revolved around the question of the effects of early as opposed to late environmental forces.
· Childhood socialization and provided evidence that judgments about more recent conditions and occurrences can dramatically alter preferences we might have held as children and adolescents.
· Findings in modern behavioral genetics reveal the effect of genes to be interactive rather than direct, let alone determinative.
· Genetics makes the mood of some people far more dependent on the extent to which their lives have been beset with difficulties and it likely makes some people's political attitudes far more contextually dependent than others.
· Twins in greater contact with their co-twins are not more likely to share the same attitudes and behaviors.
· The correlation between a parent and a child arises from a combination of shared genes, shared environment, and parental socialization, all of which are pressures toward similarity in parent-child attitudes.
· Studies of adopted children confirm the finding that genetics matter more than parentally created environment in influencing social attitudes and behaviors, personality traits, and intelligence.
· Conclusion (Table 1): Shared influences (genetic and environmental) of political attitudes account for half of the variation in these political reactions with unique individual and environmental factors accounting for remainder.
· Conclusion (Table 2): Support of a powerful role for heredity in influencing conservatism, at least as measured by the Wilson-Patterson inventory.
· Conclusion (Table 2): A very strong role for heredity and a less powerful, but clear role for shared environment. Difference lies in role of shared influences (genetic and environmental), accounting for almost 2/3 of the variation in the index, with unique individual and environmental factors accounting for only about 1/3 the variation.
· Conclusion (Table 2): To the extent that there is a family effect on political opinionation, it is entirely genetic.
· Conclusion (Table 2): Heritability for party affiliation is relatively low while shared environment is much stronger.
· Conclusion: The affect toward the major parties is largely a matter of genetic predisposition but that, just as the political socialization has concluded, party identification itself is primarily the result of parental socialization.
· Conclusion: Predictability dissimilar correlations of social and political attitudes among people with greater and lesser-shared genotypes suggest that forces of which the actors themselves are not consciously aware often shape behaviors.
· Conclusion: We know that, if both parents share a political identification, there is a high degree of likelihood that their offspring will have that same political identification.
· Conclusion: "Fathers do not have more influence over sons, and mothers do not have more influence over daughters; fathers are not generally more influential; the distribution of power within the family is irrelevant to parent-child correlations; the degree to which children and parents feel close to each other does not matter; the frequency with which the family discusses politics does not much affect correspondence between offspring and parent views; and the extent to which politics is important to the parents is also irrelevant."
· Conclusion: We find that political attitudes are influenced much more heavily by genetics than by parental socialization.