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Title Tolerance of hostility towards female politicians: A US based survey experiment
Post date 06/17/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale The interactions between citizens and politicians are an important component of political representation. Previous research has shown that women politicians are contacted more by citizens, that these contacts are more often hostile, and that hostility is the worst for women in powerful positions. This paper studies the reasons for this gender-gap in hostile citizen contacts. A survey experiment is designed with a sequence of vignettes that lets the respondent imagine a policy of school re-organization that places their child in a relatively bad school. The respondent is then shown a fictitious and hostile email sent to the top politician and asked about the extent to which they find the hostile reaction to be “acceptable” and “understandable”. By randomly assigning the sex of the policy maker, a main goal is to analyse if the tolerance to hostile contacts is shaped by the politician’s sex. Further, the experiment tests whether respondents have a higher preference for direct interaction with female politicians than male.
C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

H1: Constituents have a higher tolerance for hostility directed at female than male politicians
H1a: Constituents are more likely to report that hostility is acceptable when it is directed at female than male politicians
H1b: Constituents are more likely to report that hostility is understandable when it is directed at female than male politicians
H2: Constituents consider it more appropriate for women to be polite to aggressors

H3: Constituents prefer direct interactions with female over male politicians
H3a: Constituents prefer to contact female over male politicians
H3b: Constituents have a higher preference for face-to-face interaction with female than male politicians
H4: Preference for direct interaction with female politicians is associated with a higher tolerance of hostility towards them and expectations on lower response severity
H4a: Preference for interaction with female politicians explains part of the higher tolerance of hostility towards them
H4b: Preference for interaction with female politicians explains part of the higher expectations on politeness in women’s response to hostility towards them

Study A will mainly focus on H1 and H2. The main focus of Study B is H3a and H3b. H4a and H4b cannot be tested causally within the framework of the present study and will only be used to inform Study B descriptively.

The survey experiment described here is part of a larger project that includes data collected in Sweden. Findings from the presently described experiment will be compared to findings from a similar experiment carried out in Sweden. The comparison between findings in the US and Sweden will be used to assess the external validity of the findings. Similar outcomes with respect to the hypotheses are expected in the US and Sweden. Furthermore, the US survey will be used as a pilot and inform amendments to the survey to be fielded in Sweden. Data collection in Sweden will be pre-registered separately.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

Using a population based sample of 2000 US respondents, a vignette experiment will investigate how respondents’ (A) tolerance of hostility towards legislators and (B) preferences for interaction with legislators is affected if the fictional legislator is female or male.

The gender of the legislator will be indicated by name and picture. Pictures have been tested in Clayton, O’Brien, and Piscopo (2019) to make sure the female and male corresponding pictures match on attractiveness, likeability, competence, and perceived age. Three pictures of female and male legislators are randomly varied to make sure that any difference in the outcomes for female and male legislators do not entirely emanate from the pictures themselves. The average hostility tolerance, response severity, contact choice and intense interaction preference for the three fictitious women will be compared to the same for the three fictitious men.

Tolerance of hostility will be measured using “Acceptable” and “Understandable ”as an index of tolerance of hostility. Factor analysis, i.e. Cornbach’s alpha, will be used to analyse the association between these dimensions.

Estimation procedures:
H1: Hostility_tolerance = α + βFemale + γX ́ + e
H2: Response_severity = α + βFemale + γX ́ + e

H3a: Contact_choice = α + βFemale + γX ́ +e
H3b: Intense_interaction_preference = α + βFemale + γX ́ +e
H4a: Hostility_tolerance = α + β1Female + β2Intense_interaction_preference + γX ́ + e
H4b: Response_severity = α + β1Female + β2Intense_interaction_preference + γX ́ + e

X ́ is a vector of covariates consisting of respondent characteristics as outlined in Table 1 in the Pre-Analysis Plan.

C4 Country United States
C5 Scale (# of Units) 2000
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 MSU Study ID: STUDY00001195
C9 Date of IRB Approval 7/24/2018
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Lucid, a survey company, will survey respondents on my behalf.
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
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) J16, J71