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Title Partisan Stereotypes
Post date 02/12/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

This research project investigates whether party identification is driven by attachments to social groups that are seen as part of the stereotypes of US political parties. Specifically, it looks at whether changes in the stereotypes of a political party alter levels of attachment to that party. It also looks at whether stereotype changes affect the ideological placements of parties and individuals, policy positions of individuals, and whether changes in party stereotype alter the evaluations of particular political groups.

Party identification is a central concept in the study of political science, yet there is little consensus regarding why individuals identify with particular parties, or why this identification may change over time. This project aims to further our understanding of party identification by exploring whether the strength of attachments that citizens hold towards particular parties is related to the social groups they ascribe to that party. I hypothesize that when individuals perceive that supporters of a particular party as demographically similar to themselves, they will feel a greater sense of attachment to that party, and conversely, when they perceive party supporters as dissimilar to themselves on demographic grounds, they will feel a weaker attachment to that party. This question has not been explored before, and an experimental approach is required in order to answer this research question. This research would have significant implications for our understanding of the nature of party identification and how identifications may change over time.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

Subjects presented with an image of their own party as being more congruent with their own demographic characteristics will show greater levels of identification with the party than subjects in a control treatment.

Subjects presented with an image of their own party as being less congruent with their own demographic characteristics will show lower levels of identification with the party than subjects in a control treatment.

Subjects presented with an image of their own party as being more congruent with their own demographic characteristics will show higher levels of support for policies espoused by their party than subjects in a control treatment.

Subjects presented with an image of their own party as being less congruent with their own demographic characteristics will show lower levels of support for policies espoused by their party than subjects in a control treatment.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

Upon agreeing to participate in the study, undergraduate student subjects will be asked a brief set of questions on their demographics, religious beliefs, political engagement, and political knowledge, including their party identification (Democrat, Republican, or Independent). The respondents will then be randomly sorted into one of three treatment groups, and will be asked to read a short fictional study about the supporters of a particular party (always be their self-identified party, or Independents).
Within this study, the demographic groups associated with the party will be manipulated, In the control treatment group, the demographic characteristics in question (age, race, gender, and religiosity) will be mentioned but with no detail. In the ‘congruent’ treatment group, these characteristics will be manipulated such that supporters of the party will be portrayed as being more like the subject than expected, in the ‘incongruent’ treatment group, these characteristics will be manipulated such that supporters of the party will seem less like the subject than expected. That is, absolute information about the relative prevalence of demographic characteristics among the party’s supporters will not be given - the treatment states that these characteristics are more or less prevalent than the authors of the fictional study expected.

Following this article, the respondents will be asked to answer a series of questions regarding their partisan attachments, their attitudes towards the political parties, their evaluations of particular groups and individuals, their stances on policy issues (in which subjects will be randomized into two conditions, one in which information about party positions is provided, another in which this information is omitted), and their responses to the article. This second treatment, the randomization of party cues, is intended to test whether the effects on policy preferences of changes in party stereotype are more substantial when individuals are asked to think about the party when giving their policy positions.

C4 Country United States
C5 Scale (# of Units) Roughly 180 undergraduate students
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 1370238-2
C9 Date of IRB Approval 01/29/2019
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? 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) not provided by authors