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Public Opinion and Political Psychology Syllabus

Public Opinion and Political Psychology Syllabus Nick Beauchamp NYU Department of Politics Email: nick.beauchamp@nyu.edu O ce hours: Monday, Wednesday, 2-4pm




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Text of Public Opinion and Political Psychology Syllabus

Public Opinion and Political PsychologySyllabusNick BeauchampNYU Department of PoliticsEmail: hours: Monday, Wednesday, 2-4pmOverview and course requirementsIn this course for advanced undergraduates and graduate students, we will delve into the psychology behindpolitical opinion and behavior. In the field of political science, the psychological mechanisms guiding politicalviews were initially explored mainly through studies in public opinion, which is to say, survey research. Partlyin response to the limitations of survey research, and partly as an off-shoot of work independently occurringin psychology departments, experimental and laboratory techniques were added to the toolkit, and althoughthe questions being explored were similar to those in public opinion, the subfield became known as politicalpsychology. We will be treating these two fields in a unified fashion, given their overlapping interest in thepsychological mechanisms behind political behavior and begin with a brief introduction to the two fields, assuming that students are more familiar with pub-lic opinion than with political psychology. We then tackle three major topic areas, exploring papers thatemploy both survey and experimental designs. The first section covers the organizing structures behindpolitical beliefs: ideology; identity and social groups; personality and in particular, the so-called author-itarian personality; and finally ambivalence, or how individuals deal with conflicting views. The secondsection moves beyond belief structures, to look more closely a psychological processes of political judgmentand evaluation: how individuals deal with deficient information; how they use shorts-cuts of memory andcalculation; how they are influenced by their unconscious associations and beliefs; and how emotions, inparticular, influence judgment and behavior. The last section moves in turn beyond the single individual,to look at the practical problems of persuasion: how the news media affects consumers; and how the mediaand elites affect individuals judgments by framing the importance of competing issues. In the last class, wewill spend half our time discussing the big picture how far we have come, and where the field might gonext which naturally segues into specific proposals for where to go next, the student student will be required to write weekly 1-page response papers, present to the classat least three of the papers we will be reading, and develop a final project. The final grade will be determinedby 20% class participation and discussion, 20% response papers and presentations, and 60% the final project. Response papersThese should be short, but not summaries. Rather, they should focus on one ortwo related papers, emphasize their strengths, and present critiques and avenues for improvement orfurther research, as well as questions raised that might be interesting to discuss in class. Students mayskip up to two weeks of their choosing. PresentationsA sign-up sheet will be posted online a couple days after the first class, and studentsare expected to fill out their schedule in the first couple weeks of class. Presentations should be verybrief (5-10 minutes) and should include a short overview of your chosen paper and, as with the responsepapers, an evaluation of its strengths, weaknesses, and the substantive questions it raises. Final paperBecause much of what we will read involves either experiments or survey design, studentswill not be required to provide a full paper with data and results. Instead, they are asked to provide,1essentially, the first two-thirds of a paper: a research hypothesis, overview of the relevant literature(perhaps more extensive than would fit in a final published paper), and a careful design of an experi-ment, survey, or other data-generating process that will hopefully answer your questions. Furthermore,along the way, students will be required to submit a short paper proposal (Week 11) and the last classwill be dedicated to discussions of paper proposals and research 1. IntroductionGroundworkAfter looking briefly at some of the seminal works in public opinion, we will focus mainly on Zaller s not the be-all and end-all of the field, it is an important effort to synthesize the entire process, frompublic influence, to psychology, to survey response. His model will turn up in different guises throughoutthe rest of the course. The week on political psychology will serve more as an introduction to students whomight be less familiar with experimental and laboratory research and design. It will also look more broadlyat the question of psychology, and how that differs, or doesn t, from the dominant rationalist 2. Public OpinionW. Opinion. Transaction Publishers, 1922 Ch. Key and V. Opinion and American Democracy. Knopf New York, 1961 Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge University Press, 1992 Ch Converse. Changing Conceptions of Public Opinion in the Political Opinion Quarterly,51(4):S12 S24, Voice of the People: Public Opinion and Democracy. Yale University Press, 1997S. Voices: How Opinion Polling Has Shaped American Politics. University Of ChicagoPress, Voices: Public Opinion and Political Participation in America. Princeton UniversityPress, 2004Week 3. Political Simon. Human Nature in Political Science Review, 79(2):293 304, Quattrone and A. Tversky. Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Political Science Review, 82(3):719 736, 1988R. McDermott. Experimental Methods in Political Reviews in Political Science, 5(1):31 61,2002W. Rahn, Sullivan, and Rudolph. Political Psychology and Political AboutPolitical Psychology, pages 155 186, 20022Structures of BeliefIn public opinion research, as in popular opinion, the dominant organizational principle was originally theideology, so we begin with that. As we will see, the fundamental question will be whether ideology is aseparate causal factor, or merely a name for empirically evident clusters of beliefs. Another source of belieforganization, this time outside the individual, is the social group, where group identities may structureand organize beliefs or again, it may just be that we hang out with like-minded people. Turning in amore traditionally psychological direction, perhaps instead there are personality types that structure has become a popular framework for understanding a certain cluster of belief types, butperhaps even more than the previous two topics, it is also beset by accusations that the notion is ad hoc andnot causal. Finally, we will look at what happens when beliefs are not consistent or structured, and howindividuals deal with conflicting 4. Converse. The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass and Discontent, pages 206 261, Achen. Mass Political Attitudes and the Survey Political Science Review,69(4):1218 1231, 1975S. Feldman. Structure and Consistency in Public Opinion: The Role of Core Beliefs and of Political Science, 32(2):416 40, Kuklinski, Luskin, and J. Bolland. Where Is the Schema? Going Beyond the s word in Political Science Review, 85(4):1341 1356, 1991P. Goren. Party Identification and Core Political Journal of Political Science, 49(4):881 896, Jost and O. Hunyady. Antecedents and Consequences of System-Justifying Direc-tions in Psychological Science, 14(5):260 265, 2005Further Sears, Lau, Tyler, and Allen Jr. Self-Interest Vs. Symbolic Politics in Policy Attitudesand Presidential Political Science Review, 74(3):670 684, McCann. Electoral Choices and Core Value Change: The 1992 Presidential of Political Science, 41:564 583, Jost, J. Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway. Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Bulletin, 129(3):339 375, Jacoby. Value Choices and American Public Journal of Political Science, 50(3):706 723, 2006Week 5. Identity and Social Conover. The Influence of Group Identifications on Political Perception and ofPolitics, 46(3):760 785, 1984Rm Kramer and Mb Brewer. Effects of Group Identity on Resource Use in a Simulated Commons Pers Soc Psychol, 46(5):1044 57, Brady and Sniderman. Attitude Attribution: A Group Basis for Political Science Review, 79(4):1061 78, 1985L. Huddy. From Social to Political Identity: A Critical Examination of Social Identity , 22(1):127 156, 2001P. Oakes. Psychological Groups and Political Psychology: A Response to Huddys Critical Examination ofSocial Identity Psychology, 23(4):809 824, 2002Further reading:H. Schuman and Converse. The Effects of Black and White Interviewers on Black Responses in Opinion Quarterly, 35(1):44 68, 1971R. Huckfeldt and J. Sprague. Networks in Context: The Social Flow of Political Science Review, 81(4):1197 1216, Conover. The Role of Social Groups in Political Journal of Political Science, 18(1):51 76, Brewer. The Social Self: On Being the Same and Different at the Same and SocialPsychology Bulletin, 17(5):475, Tetlock, Peterson, C. McGuire, S. Chang, and P. Feld. Interpersonal Relations and Group ProcessesAssessing Political Group Dynamics: A Test of the Groupthink of Personality and SocialPsychology, 63(3):403 425, Influence: How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes. CambridgeUniversity Press, Kinder. Belief Systems After Democracy, pages 13 47, 2003Week 6. Personality and AuthoritarianismS. Feldman and K. Stenner. Perceived Threat and Psychology, 18(4):741 770,1997H. Lavine, D. Burgess, M. Snyder, J. Transue, Sullivan, B. Haney, and Wagner. Threat, Author-itarianism, and Voting: An Investigation of Personality and and Social PsychologyBulletin, 25(3):337, 1999F. Pratto, Tatar, and S. Conway-Lanz. Who Gets What and Why: Determinants of Social Psychology, 20(1):127 150, 1999S. Feldman. Enforcing Social Conformity: A Theory of Psychology, 24(1):41 74,2003H. Lavine, M. Lodge, and K. Freitas. Threat, Authoritarianism, and Selective Exposure to Psychology, 26(2):219 244, 2005Further reading:B. Authoritarian Specter. Harvard Univ Pr, 1996K. Authoritarian Dynamic. Cambridge University Press, 20054Week 7. Alvarez and J. Brehm. American Ambivalence Towards Abortion Policy: Development of a Het-eroskedastic Probit Model of Competing Journal of Political Science, 39(4):1055 82, 1995M. Peffley, P. Knigge, and J. Hurwitz. A Multiple Values Model of Political ResearchQuarterly, 54(2):379, McGraw, E. Hasecke, and K. Conger. Ambivalence, Uncertainty, and Processes of Candidate Psychology, 24(3):421 448, Basinger and H. Lavine. Ambivalence, Information, and Electoral Political ScienceReview, 99(02):169 184, 2005Further reading:S. Feldman and J. Zaller. The Political Culture of Ambivalence: Ideological Responses to the Welfare Political Research Experience: Readings and Analysis, 2002H. Lavine. The Electoral Consequences of Ambivalence Toward Presidential Journalof Political Science, 45(4):915 929, Alvarez and J. Choices, Easy Answers: Values, Information, and American PublicOpinion. Princeton University Press, 2002. Ch. Processes and LimitationsThe previous two weeks have led us inexorably towards more detailed psychological mechanisms for under-standing how beliefs are formed and how they change. In this section, we look more closely at the processesof decision making: not so much the structure of beliefs, but their creation and subsequent effects on behav-ior. Here, of course, the experimental method will be crucial. We begin with how individuals think givenlimited or flawed information, how they deal with flawed memories, or rationalize ad-hoc decisions they havemade. We then look more closely at heuristics, the short-cuts of evaluation and analysis people employ tomake decisions in a complex world when perfect Bayesian rationality may be impossible. We then turn fromsuch (semi) conscious procedures to unconscious ones, and look at a small portion of the huge new literaturesuggesting that we are all, unconsciously, riven by prejudice and instinctive judgments. Does the fact theseprejudices can be suppressed mean that they are not a problem? Finally, we look at the tricky nature ofemotion: is it another short-cut for analysis; or again, just a name for a cluster of opinions; or does it haveits own causes and effects independent of the other mechanisms we have explored?Week 8. Cognitive and Informational Rahn, Krosnick, and M. Breuning. Rationalization and Derivation Processes in Survey Studies ofPolitical Candidate Journal of Political Science, 38(3):582 600, 1994M. Lodge, Steenbergen, and S. Brau. The Responsive Voter: Campaign Information and the Dynamicsof Candidate Political Science Review, 89(2):309 326, Althaus. Information Effects in Collective Political Science Review, 92:545 558, Taber and M. Lodge. Information Processing and Public Handboook of PoliticalPsychology (New York: Oxford Up 2003), pages 433 76, 2003M. Gilens. Political Ignorance and Collective Policy Political Science Review,95(02):379 396, 2005Further reading:St Fiske, Dr Kinder, and Wm Larter. The Novice and the Expert: Knowledge-Based Strategies in of Experimental Social Psychology(Print), 19(4):381 400, 1983J. Zaller. Information, Values, and Political Science Review, 85(4):1215 1237, Cacioppo and Petty. Effects of Message Repetition and Position on Cognitive Response, Recall,and of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(1):97 109, Taber and Steenbergen. Computational Experiments in Electoral Judgment:Structure and Process, page 141, Bartels. Uninformed Votes: Information Effects in Presidential Journal of PoliticalScience, 40:194 230, 1996A. Lupia and Democratic Dilemma: Can Citizens Learn What They Need to Know?Cambridge University Press, 1998Week 9. HeuristicsA. Tversky and D. Kahneman. Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and , 185(4157):1124 1131, Ottati. Determinants of Political Judgments: The Joint Influence of Normative and Heuristic Rules Behavior, 12(2):159 179, 1990A. Lupia. Shortcuts Versus Encyclopedias: Information and Voting Behavior in California Insurance Political Science Review, 88(1):63 76, Cobb and Kuklinski. Changing Minds: Political Arguments and Political of Political Science, 41:88 121, Lau and Redlawsk. Advantages and Disadvantages of Cognitive Heuristics in Political Journal of Political Science, 45(4):951 971, 2001Further reading:M. Lodge, K. McGraw, and P. Stroh. An Impression-Driven Model of Candidate Science Review, 83(2):399 419, 1989D. Chong. How People Think, Reason, and Feel About Rights and Journal of PoliticalScience, 37(3):867 99, Mondak. Source Cues and Policy Approval: The Cognitive Dynamics of Public Support for the Journal of Political Science, 37(1):186 212, McGraw and M. Steenbergen. Pictures in the Head: Memory Representations of Political Judgment: Structure and Process, pages 15 41, 19956E. Converse Philip. Assessing the Capacity of Mass Review of Political Science, pages331 353, Haugtvedt and Petty. Personality and Persuasion: Need for Cognition Moderates the Persistenceand Resistance of Attitude Ot Personality and Social Psvchologv, 63( ), 1992Week 10. Automatic and Unconscious Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powell, and Kardes. On the Automatic Activation of Personality and Social Psychology, 50:229 238, Devine. Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled of Person-ality and Social Psychology, 56(1):5 18, Greenwald, McGhee, Schwartz, Y. Shoda, and Attitudes. Measuring IndividualDifferences in Implicit Cognition: The Implicit Association of Personality, 74(6):1464 1480,1998H. Lavine, E. Borgida, and Sullivan. On the Relationship Between Attitude Involvement and Atti-tude Accessibility: Toward a Cognitive-Motivational Model of Political Information , 21(1):81 106, 2000M. Lodge and Taber. The Automaticity of Affect for Political Leaders, Groups, and Issues: An Exper-imental Test of the Hot Cognition Psychology, 26(3):455 482, 2005Further Greenwald, Banaji, and Others. Implicit Social Cognition: Attitudes, Self-Esteem, and Review, 102:4 27, Brendl, Markman, and C. Messner. How Do Indirect Measures of Evaluation Work? Evaluatingthe Inference of Prejudice in the Implicit Association of Personality and Social Psychology,81(5):760 773, 2001N. Terkildsen. When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of CandidateSkin Color, Prejudice, and Journal of Political Science, 37(4):1032 53, 1993Week 11. Marcus and Mackuen. Anxiety, Enthusiasm, and the Vote: The Emotional Underpinnings ofLearning and Involvement During Presidential Political Science Review, 87(3):672 685, 1993Ge Marcus. Emotions in Reviews in Political Science, 3(1):221 250, 2000R. McDermott. The Feeling of Rationality: The Meaning of Neuroscientific Advances for Political on Politics, 2(04):691 706, 2004T. Brader. Striking a Responsive Chord: How Political Ads Motivate and Persuade Voters by Appealing Journal of Political Science, 49(2):388 405, Burden and Klofstad. Affect and Cognition in Party Psychology, 26(6):869 886, 20057L. Huddy, S. Feldman, C. Taber, and G. Lahav. Threat, Anxiety, and Support of Antiterrorism Journal of Political Science, 49(3):593 608, 2005Further Marcus, Neuman, and M. Intelligence and Political Judgment. University OfChicago Press, Isbell and Ottati. The Emotional Social Psychology of Politics, pages 55 74, Nabi. Exploring the Framing Effects of Emotion: Do Discrete Emotions Differentially Influence In-formation Accessibility, Information Seeking, and Policy Preference?Communication Research, 30(2):224,2003PersuasionIn the concluding weeks of the course, we turn from analysis to synthesis, examining the real-world interplayof the various factors we have previously explored. We begin with the fraught question of the effect of thenews media on consumers: how large is it, and is bias a problem given the vulnerabilities we have alreadythoroughly documented? Delving deeper into a specific mechanism here leads to the burgeoning field of framing, where external sources affect not people s beliefs per se, but the relative importance rankingof the issues before them. The effects of framing appear quite large, and are a challenge for traditionalrationalist approaches, since it is unclear how rational bayesian beliefs should respond to arguments aboutrelative 12. The MediaS. Iyengar, Peters, and Kinder. Experimental Demonstrations of the Not-So-Minimal Conse-quences of Television News Political Science Review, 76(4):848 858, Bartels. Messages Received: The Political Impact of Media Political ScienceReview, 87(2):267 285, Nelson, Clawson, and Oxley. Media Framing of a Civil Liberties Conflict and Its Effect Political Science Review, 91:567 584, Eveland and Shah. The Impact of Individual and Interpersonal Factors on Perceived News Psychology, 24(1):101 117, Beck, Dalton, S. Greene, and R. Huckfeldt. The Social Calculus of Voting: Interpersonal, Media,and Organizational Influences on Presidential Political Science Review, 96(01):57 73,2004Further reading:J. Zaller. The Myth of Massive Media Impact Revived: New Support for a Discredited and Attitude Change, pages 17 78, Kinder. Communication and Reviews in Political Science, 1(1):167 197, Miller and Krosnick. News Media Impact on the Ingredients of Presidential Evaluations: PoliticallyKnowledgeable Citizens Are Guided by a Trusted Journal of Political Science, 44(2):301 315, 20008Week 13. Krosnick and Kinder. Altering the Foundations of Support for the President Through Political Science Review, 84(2):497 512, Druckman. On the Limits of Framing Effects: Who Can Frame?The Journal of Politics, 63(4):1041 1066, Druckman. Political Preference Formation: Competition, Deliberation, and the (Ir) Relevance of Fram-ing Political Science Review, 98(04):671 686, Valentino, Hutchings, and White. Cues That Matter: How Political Ads Prime Racial AttitudesDuring Political Science Review, 96(01):75 90, Brewer and K. Gross. Values, Framing, and Citizens Thoughts About Policy Issues: Effects on Contentand Psychology, 26(6):929 948, Winter. Beyond Welfare: Framing and the Racialization of White Opinion on Social Journal of Political Science, 50(2):400 420, 2006Further Druckman, Jacobs, and E. Ostermeier. Candidate Strategies to Prime Issues and Politics, 66(4):1180 1202, Berinsky and Kinder. Making Sense of Issues Through Media Frames: Understanding the of Politics, 68(3):640 656, Huber and Lapinski. The Race Card Revisited: Assessing Racial Priming in Policy Journal of Political Science, 50(2):421 440, 2006Week 14. Wrap-up and paper finish with a look backwards and forwards. What have these psychological approaches added to ourunderstanding of political opinion and behavior? How, if at all, do they challenge traditional rational-behavior models? What sorts of new models can we devise that more directly include all the vagaries ofhuman belief and thought that we have explored? And how might we apply the discoveries to our specificfields of interest? I look forward to seeing your own proposals for where to go

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