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Whether Geneva Conventions (GC) rights should apply to terrorists is a contentious question that has received little attention in public opinion research. Both personality and contextual factors may be important. We queried participants' support for applying the GC to alleged terrorists, but first we measured participants' authoritarianism and presented them with a scenario concerning an alleged terrorist. We manipulated whether (1) the scenario contained examples of GC rights and (2) the alleged terrorist's religious affiliation was Muslim or non-Muslim. Support for applying the GC to alleged terrorists was high and unaffected by providing examples of GC provisions, but it was negatively related to authoritarianism. Support was reduced by priming with a Muslim terrorist, but only among participants exhibiting a behavioral marker for limited interhemispheric interaction — consistent-handedness. Consistent-handers in our sample expressed greater authoritarianism, suggesting that limited interhemispheric interaction promotes greater authoritarianism, which decreases support for applying the GC to alleged terrorists.
Research has shown that a candidate's appearance affects the support he or she receives in elections. We extend this research in this article in three ways. First, we examine this relationship further in a non-Western context using 2015 local elections in Japan. Next, we show that this positive relationship is more complicated depending on the characteristics of the election under consideration. Specifically, we distinguished election contests by levels of turnout and found that despite a positive relationship between turnout and the extent to which smiling increases a candidate's support levels, the marginal increase in support declined as turnout increased and, in fact, became negative when some high-turnout threshold was crossed. Finally, we show that the number of candidates competing in an election is negatively related to the impact of a candidate smiling, confirming research conducted by the Dartmouth Group.
Research shows that individuals with liberal and conservative ideological orientations display different value positions concerning the acceptance of social change and inequality. Research also links the expression of different values to a number of biological factors, including heredity. In light of these biological influences, I investigate whether differences in social values associated with liberal and conservative ideologies reflect alternative strategies to maximize returns from social interactions. Using an American sample of Democrats and Republicans, I test whether information about shared and unshared social values in the form of implicit social attitudes have a disproportionate effect on the willingness of Democrats and Republicans to trust an anonymous social partner. I find evidence that knowledge of shared values significantly increases levels of trust among Democrats but not Republicans. I further find that knowledge of unshared values significantly decreases trust among Republicans but not Democrats. These findings are consistent with studies indicating that differences in ideological orientation are linked to differences in cognition and decision-making.
Research suggests that people can accurately predict the political affiliations of others using only information extracted from the face. It is less clear from this research, however, what particular facial physiological processes or features communicate such information. Using a model of emotion developed in psychology that treats emotional expressivity as an individual-level trait, this article provides a theoretical account of why emotional expressivity may provide reliable signals of political orientation, and it tests the theory in four empirical studies. We find statistically significant liberal/conservative differences in self-reported emotional expressivity, in facial emotional expressivity measured physiologically, in the perceived emotional expressivity and ideology of political elites, and in an experiment that finds that more emotionally expressive faces are perceived as more liberal.
Researchers have sought to understand the effects of like-minded versus contrary news exposure on attitude polarization, which can be a threat to democracy. The online news environment offers opportunities for exposure to both types of news, albeit unequally. This study tests the effects of exposure to heterogeneous partisan news bundles (both like-minded and contrary news) on attitude polarization. Because media exposure can lead to bias, attitude polarization is tested as a direct and indirect effect via hostile media perceptions. Data in this study are from a between-subjects experimental design about the issue of assisted suicide. Results indicate that even though the effect of the partisan news bundle on hostile media perceptions is significant, both direct and indirect effects on attitude polarization are null.
In this article, the present status of our knowledge about the phenomenon of “suicide” bombing or “martyrdom” operations is identified. A review of many studies located at different levels of analysis is conducted, followed by an analysis and evaluation of the state of the research at each level. In addition, an exploration of the evolution in the characteristics of this tactic and the differences, if any, between subnational and transnational acts is undertaken. The conclusion identifies what we know and what may be appropriate for future research and public policy initiatives.
Let's begin by addressing the most obvious question: given the vast number of books published on political science every year, why would the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences (APLS) and its journal Politics and the Life Sciences expend time, energy, and resources publishing a multiple-author analysis of a series of books that contain little (if anything) about the life sciences, Darwin, or evolution? The answer is that Cass R. Sunstein's recent research on “nudge science” provides an excellent opportunity for APLS to expand its commitment to interdisciplinarity, especially its long-standing interest in behavioral economics. Sunstein, a prolific author, has written many books and scholarly articles defending “libertarian paternalism.” Libertarian critics have long argued that the conjunction of “libertarian” and “paternalism” is oxymoronic and that the “liberty principle” or the “principle of autonomy” excludes paternalistic intervention on behalf of rational, competent adults. Over the years, with varying degrees of success, Sunstein has addressed many, if not most, lines of criticism emanating from the political left and right. Like many scholars, his views have evolved over time based on that criticism. This introductory essay will focus on some of the more enduring elements of the conceptual framework and issues that underlie nudge science in the larger context of behavioral economics, including choice architecture, political bans and mandates, political nudges, ethics, and paternalistic intervention.
From a psychological perspective, Cass R. Sunstein's 2016 book The Ethics of Influence is an insightful examination of the ethics of using social and cognitive psychological principles to influence behavior and decision-making. The United States has been experiencing what can only be described as an obesity epidemic. Scientists know that this epidemic has been brought about in part by the prevailing choice architecture, which influences what we eat, how much we eat, and how little we exercise. From a public health perspective, the policy issue centers on how a democracy can employ a combination of bans, mandates, and nudges to reshape our dietary habits to combat obesity. In this article, I will address how policymakers must nudge and change the existing psychological and physical choice architecture to combat obesity. The obesity epidemic cannot be won solely by increasing taxes, mandates, and bans on certain food items as that infringes on the personal liberty, welfare, autonomy, and dignity of citizens.
The classical economics perspective is that public policy should be used to allow, not hinder, economic freedom. In some cases it may be possible for government to gently nudge individuals to change their behavior without hindering freedom. One example is a change from the default on pension program enrollment forms from “not contribute” to “contribute.” This is generally viewed as a good nudge that gets people to do what the majority of people view as generally the correct behavior. However, a choice to contribute to a pension fund is not always in the individual’s best interest — thus, it is a nudge, not a mandate. To maintain personal liberty, individuals should be fully informed about the consequences of their choice and the motives of the political authority. Saving for retirement is a complex issue, and pension contribution decisions are often made with little foresight or information. Pension contribution nudges may not always be freedom preserving because of complexity and unintended consequences. The benefits, risks, and limitations of default contribution pension nudges are discussed.
Cass R. Sunstein's book The Ethics of Influence appears to have three ideological features notable for purposes of this essay. The book emphasizes choice architecture (and related notions such as nudges and defaults), which should be ethically scrutinized to guard against ethical abuses and to assist us in ethically desirable uses of scientific psychology and behavioral economics. (1) This particular book focuses more on scrutinizing nation-state government than on corporate activities. (2) This book focuses more on domestically directed governmental action than on externally directed governmental action. (3) This book focuses more on certain developed liberal democracies than on the more comprehensive global situation. Sunstein is especially interested in environmental issues, particularly energy policy, global warming, and climate change. This essay argues that Sunstein's conceptual scheme can be fruitfully expanded to progress toward a normative environmental ethics that can be integrated with the insights of global political economy.
Cass R. Sunstein's 2016 book The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavioral Science provides an extremely informative introduction to the science and ethics of the exercise of “influence” over others. As a longtime physician employed in both the public and private sectors, I now recognize that most of my formal training has been in the hard sciences, with little, if any, training in the appropriate influence of the decision-making processes of my patients and/or other health care professionals in institutional settings. Breast cancer screening is an excellent example of the conflicts of modern medicine, highlighting our collective inability to effectively “nudge” others in the pursuit of health and/or organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Using the framework of Sunstein's ethical values of welfare, autonomy, dignity, and self-government, I discuss many of the conflicting issues in a nationwide breast cancer screening program and the effects of these issues on client nudging to determine whether mammography screening is ethical.