Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Information and political perception
by Pennefather, Jordan, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2008, 172; 3337221
Abstract (Summary)

Past research into the effect of information on political perception has tended to use survey research, which while allowing strong inferences about external validity is troubled by decreased control of the information that respondents use when forming impressions of the candidates. Moving into the laboratory allows us to examine the effect of the specific information on perceptions.

The first study examined how the relevance and diagnosticity of individuating information to judgments of political candidates' attitude position on various issues influences perception of the candidates. At Time 1, subjects learned basic information about the candidates (photograph, name, and political party). At Time 2 they learned information that was irrelevant, relevant but nondiagnostic, or relevant and diagnostic of the candidates' political stands. Overall subjects projected more to the ingroup candidates. Ingroup projection decreased directionally at Time 2. At Time 1 subjects contrasted the outgroup candidates, at Time 2 projection was non-significant. Overall Democrat subjects agreed more about the candidates' positions than Republicans. Polarization of the political parties decreased at Time 2.

In the second study subjects learned about an ingroup candidate (Democrat) who held positions on six issues that were consistent with the stereotypic positions of his political party, or were mixed (three consistent and three inconsistent). Additionally, subjects learned that the candidate was either highly endorsed by fellow Democrats (popular), or weakly endorsed (unpopular). Subjects showed preference for the consistent candidate. Additionally, highly affiliated subjects showed a non-significant tendency to use consistency information less when the candidate was popular.

The final study examined data from the 1980 and 1988 American National Election Studies (ANES). Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to examine both ideological and issue-specific projection, as well as the impact of self-reported political knowledge on polarization of the two parties. In general the two models demonstrated the tendency of the respondents to project their own political positions towards their own political party. Additionally, we have shown that the respondents contrasted the outgroup party's position from their own. Increased political knowledge led to polarization of the two parties, by increasing perceptions of extremity for both ingroup and outgroup.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Park, Bernadette, Judd, Charles M.
Commitee: Cohen, Geoffrey L., Healy, Alice F., Wolak, Jennifer
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology
Keywords: Consensus, Impression formation, Ingroup, Polarization, Political perception, Projection
Publication Number: 3337221
ISBN: 9780549919315
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