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Title Party Identification and Memory Effects: Are Negative Outcomes for the Opposite Party Processed as Positive Stimuli?
Post date 05/14/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

One central aspect to the study of political psychology is how individuals process the information they receive about candidates. How much information do individuals retain? What type of information is retained? What is the relationship between information readily available in one’s mind and candidate evaluations? In this study, I will examine how the positivity of information affects one’s memory of that information. My main research question is: Do individuals remember information about policies, associated with a candidate of their own party, that have positive(negative) effects in a similar way to policies, associated with a candidate not of their own party, that have negative(positive) effects?

Negative and positive information/stimuli are processed differently. One way this differential processing is revealed is through memory. Individuals remember positive and negative information to different extents. The purpose of my study is to refine our understanding of what falls into the category of “positive information” and what falls into the category of “negative information.” Specifically, should positive policy information associated with a different party than one’s own fall into the “negative information” category, and should negative information associated with a different party than one’s own fall into the “positive information” category?

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

H1: Same party positive information will be remembered to a similar extent as different party negative information. Same party negative information will be remembered to a similar extent as different party positive information.

H2: The effects will be stronger for strong partisans.
H3: Individuals will remember same party positive information and different party negative information more than same party negative information and different party positive information.

H4: Republicans will remember same party negative information and different party positive information more than Democrats will.

H5: Men may appear to remember more information than women will.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

To test these hypotheses, I will run a survey experiment on MTurk. I will present respondents with a biography of a hypothetical candidate. Respondents will be asked to evaluate how helpful this biography would be if included in a voter guide. The biography will include neutral background information on the candidate, the party of the candidate, and information about the effects of a bill the candidate sponsored when in office. Each respondent will only see one biography. The biography respondents see will have the same background information. However, respondents will be randomly assigned to see a biography of either a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate. The policy realm the bill the candidate sponsored will also be randomly assigned. There are four policy realms: healthcare, infrastructure, education, and the economy. Lastly, the effect of the bill will also be randomly assigned. Respondents will either see a biography that includes a line about a non-partisan research center finding that the bill had negative effects, positive effects, or that the effects of the bill were unable to be determined.

First, respondents will be asked some background questions, including party identification. Then, respondents will be shown the biography. Respondents will be asked to evaluate how helpful this biography would be in a voter guide and will be asked some questions about voter guides in general. Lastly, respondents will be asked about what they remember from the biography. There will be questions about the neutral background information included in the biography, as well as the policy information. I am mainly interested in the respondents’ memory of the policy information. However, if there are differences between the groups in terms of memory of the background information, this will be interested as well, though I do not have any predictions regarding how individuals will remember the neutral background information.

C4 Country United States
C5 Scale (# of Units) 720
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? No
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number 2019-03-12012
C9 Date of IRB Approval 05/02/2019
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? not provided by authors
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? not provided by authors
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors