(with Andy Guess and Jonathan Nagler)
American Journal of Political Science, 2019
How well does public policy represent mass preferences in U.S. states? Current approaches provide an incomplete account of statehouse democracy because they fail to compare preferences and policies on meaningful scales. Here, we overcome this problem by generating estimates of Americans' preferences on the minimum wage and compare them to observed policies both within and across states. Because we measure both preferences and policies on the same scale (U.S. dollars), we can quantify both the association of policy outcomes with preferences across states (responsiveness) and their deviation within states (bias). We demonstrate that while minimum wages respond to corresponding preferences across states, policy outcomes are more conservative than preferences in each state, with the average policy bias amounting to about two dollars. We also show that policy bias is substantially smaller in states with access to direct democratic institutions.
The electoral consequences of issue frames
(with Erik Peterson)
The Journal of Politics, 2018
What happens after issue frames shape public opinion? We offer an account of the downstream effects of issue frames on candidate choice. We then use three studies combining issue framing experiments with conjoint candidate choice experiments to directly assess these downstream effects. Despite an ideal setting for elite influence on public opinion, we find that frames ultimately have modest effects on how the public later evaluates politicians. Our theoretical framework highlights two sources of this disconnect. Frame-induced opinion change is only one component, often outweighed by other factors, in candidate choice, and the issues most amenable to framing are the least relevant for evaluating candidates. This introduces a new consideration into debates about the political consequences of issue frames. Even after they change the public’s policy opinions, issue frames may still have limited implications for other political outcomes
Seeing the world through the other’s eye: An online intervention reducing ethnic prejudice
(with Gabor Kezdi and Peter Kardos)
American Political Science Review, 2018
We report the results of an intervention that targeted anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary using an online perspective-taking game. We evaluated the impact of this intervention using a randomized experiment in which a sample of young adults played this perspective-taking game, or an unrelated online game. Participation in the perspective-taking game markedly reduced prejudice, with an effect-size equivalent to half the difference between voters of the far-right and the center-right party. The effects persisted for at least a month, and, as a byproduct, the intervention also reduced antipathy toward refugees, another stigmatized group in Hungary, and decreased vote intentions for Hungary's overtly racist, far-right party by 10%. Our study offers a proof-of-concept for a general class of interventions that could be adapted to different settings and implemented at low costs.
Economic Hardship Triggers Identification with Disadvantaged Minorities
(with Gabor Kezdi)
The Journal of Politics, 2016
We explore the effect of economic hardship on the identification with a disadvantaged ethnic minority using longitudinal data on 10,000 adolescents in Hungary. Fixed-effects and first-differenced panel models show that adolescents having Roma descent are more likely to identify as Roma when their families experience economic hardship, an effect strongest among adolescents with mixed-ethnicity parents. Adolescents who identify as Roma are substantially less prejudiced against the Roma and less supportive of exclusionary policies than those with Roma descent but not identifying as Roma. These findings support self-perception-based theories of ethnic identification and imply that changes in ethnic identity can reinforce stereotypes.
Publication bias in the social sciences: Unlocking the file drawer
(with Neil Malhotra and Annie Franco)
We studied publication bias in the social sciences by analyzing a known population of conducted studies—221 in total—in which there is a full accounting of what is published and unpublished. We leveraged Time-sharing Experiments in the Social Sciences (TESS), a National Science Foundation–sponsored program in which researchers propose survey-based experiments to be run on representative samples of American adults. Because TESS proposals undergo rigorous peer review, the studies in the sample all exceed a substantial quality threshold. Strong results are 40 percentage points more likely to be published than are null results and 60 percentage points more likely to be written up. We provide direct evidence of publication bias and identify the stage of research production at which publication bias occurs: Authors do not write up and submit null findings.