Political Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 317–335

Motivated Reasoning and Yard-Sign-Stealing Partisans: Mine is a Likable Rogue, Yours is a Degenerate Criminal

Original Paper

Abstract

We fielded an experiment in the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study testing the theory that motivated reasoning governs reactions to news about misdeeds on the campaign trail. Treated subjects either encountered a fabricated news story involving phone calls with deceptive information about polling times or one involving disappearing yard signs (the offending party was varied at random). Control subjects received no treatment. We then inquired about how the treated subjects felt about dirty tricks in political campaigns and about all subjects’ trust in government. We find that partisans process information about dirty campaign tricks in a motivated way, expressing exceptional concern when the perpetrators are political opponents. However, there is almost no evidence that partisans’ evaluations of dirty political tricks in turn color other political attitudes, such as political trust.

Keywords

Election fraud Dirty tricks Public opinion Experiment Trust Cynicism Universal aversion Motivated reasoning 

References

  1. Alvarez, M., & Boehmke, F. J. (2008). Correlates of fraud: Studying state election fraud allegations. In M. Alvarez, T. Hall, & S. D. Hyde (Eds.), Election fraud: Detecting and deterring electoral manipulation. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  2. Alvarez, M., Hall, Thad, & Hyde, S. D. (2008a). Introduction: Studying election fraud. In M. Alvarez, T. Hall, & S. D. Hyde (Eds.), Election fraud: Detecting and deterring electoral manipulation. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  3. Alvarez, M., Hall, T., & Llewellyn, M. (2008b). Are americans confident their ballots are counted? Journal of Politics, 70, 754–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Billig, M., & Tajfel, H. (1973). Social categorization and similarity in intergroup behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology, 3, 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Birch, S. (2007). Electoral systems and electoral misconduct. Comparative Political Studies, 40, 1533–1556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Birch, S. (2009). Electoral corruption. In T. Landman & N. Robinson (Eds.), Handbook of comparative politics. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Birch, S. (2011). Electoral malpractice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Braman, D., & Kahan, D. M. (2003). Caught in the cross-fire: Defending the cutural theory of gun-risk perception. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 151, 1395–1417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brewer, M. B. (1979). In-group bias in the minimal intergroup situation: A cognitive-motivational analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brewer, M. B. (1999). The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love or outgroup hate? Journal of Social Issues, 55, 429–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, A., et al. (1960). The American voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  12. Doise, W., et al. (1972). An experimental investigation into the formation of intergroup representations. European Journal of Social Psychology, 2, 202–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ferguson, C. K., & Kelley, H. H. (1964). Significant factors in overevaluation of own-group’s product. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69, 223–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freud, S. (1933). New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. In Standard edition (Vol. 22, pp. 3–128). London: Hogart Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gollust, S. E., Lanz, P. M., & Ubel, P. A. (2009). The polarizing effect of news media messages about the social determinants of health. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 2160–2167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grossmann, M., Sides, J., Lipsitz, K. (n.d.). The Myth of universal aversion: Public opinion about negativity in American Campaigns. http://home.gwu.edu/~jsides/aversion.pdf. Accessed 30 October 2010.
  17. Hartman, T. K., & Newmark, A. J. (2012). Motivated reasoning, political sophistication, and associations between president Obama and Islam. PS. Political Science, 45, 449–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hastorf, A. H., & Cantril, H. (1954). They saw a game: A case study. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 49, 129–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hetherington, M. J. (2005). Why trust matters: Declining political trust and the demise of American liberalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kahan, D. M., Braman, D., Cohen, G. L., Slovic, P., & Gastil, J. (2008). Who fears the HPV vaccine, who doesn’t, and why? An experimental study of the mechanisms of cultural cognition. Law and Human Behavior, 34, 501–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kahan, D. M., Jenkins-Smith, H., & Braman, D. (2011). Cultural cognition of scientific consensus. Journal of Risk Research, 14, 147–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kunda, Z. (1990). The case for motivated reasoning. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 480–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lehoucq, F. E. (2003). Electoral fraud: Causes, types, and consequences. Annual Review of Political Science, 6, 233–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lehoucq, F. E., & Molina, I. (2002). Stuffing the ballot box: Fraud, electoral reform, and democratization in costa rica. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lodge, M., & Taber, C. S. (2000). Three steps toward a theory of motivated political reasoning. In A. Lupia, M. D. McCubbins, & S. L. Popkin (Eds.), Elements of reasoning: Understanding and expanding the limits of political rationality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. McCann, J. A., & Dominguez, J. I. (1996). Democratizing Mexico: Public opinion and electoral choice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  27. McCann, J. A., & Dominguez, J. I. (1998). Mexicans react to electoral fraud and political corruption: An assessment of public opinion and voting behavior. Electoral Studies, 17, 483–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCann, J. A., & Redlawsk, D. P. (2006). As voters head to the polls, will they perceive a ‘culture of corruption?’. PS: Political Science and Politics, 37, 797–802.Google Scholar
  29. Mitchell, D.-G. (2014). Here today, gone tomorrow? Assessing how timing and repetition of scandal information affects candidate evaluations. Political Psychology, 35, 679–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mutz, D. C. (2011). Population-based survey experiments. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nyblade, B., & Reed, S. R. (2008). Who cheats? Who loots? Political competition and corruption in Japan, 1947–1993. American Journal of Political Science, 52, 926–941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2010). When corrections fail: The persistence of political misperceptions. Political Behavior, 32, 303–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. PEW. (2010). Distrust, discontent, anger and partisan rancor. http://www.people-press.org/2010/04/18/section-1-trust-in-government-1958-2010/. Accessed on October 21 2014.
  34. Redlawsk, D. P. (2002). Hot cognition of cool consideration? Testing the effects of motivated reasoning on political decision making. Journal of Politics, 64, 1021–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Redlawsk, D. P., & McCann, J. A. (2005). Popular interpretations of ‘corruption’ and their partisan consequences. Political Behavior, 27, 261–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rudolph, T. J. (2006). Triangulating political responsibility: The motivated formation of responsibility judgements. Political Behavior, 27, 99–122.Google Scholar
  37. Schaffer, F. C. (2002). Might cleaning up elections keep people away from the polls? Historical and comparative perspectives. International Political Science Review, 23, 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schaffer, F. C. (2007). Lessons learned. In C. F. Schaffer (Ed.), Elections for sale: The causes and consequences of vote buying. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Press.Google Scholar
  39. Schaffer, F. C. (2008). The hidden costs of clean election reform. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Sherif, M., et al. (1961). Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The robbers cave experiment. Norman, OK: University Book Exchange.Google Scholar
  41. Sides, J., Lipsitz, K., & Grossman, M. (2010). Do voters perceive negative campaigns as informative campaigns? American Politics Research., 38, 502–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Taber, C. S., & Lodge, M. (2006). Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs. American Journal of Political Science, 50, 755–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Taber, C. S., Lodge, M., & Glathar, J. (2001). The motivated construction of political judgements. In J. Kuklinski (Ed.), Citizens and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Tajfel, H., & Billig, M. (1974). Familiarity and categorization in Intergroup Behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 10, 159–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tajfel, H., Billig, M., Bundy, R., & Flament, C. (1971). Social categorization and intergroup behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology, 1, 149–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Westen, D., et al. (2006). Neural bases of motivated reasoning: An fMRI study of emotional constraints on partisan political judgment in the 2004 US presidential election. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 1947–1958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceKent State UniversityKentUSA

Personalised recommendations