Politics

Forthcoming
Jon Green, James N. Druckman, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Katherine Ognyanova, and Roy H. Perlis. Forthcoming. “Depressive Symptoms and Conspiracy Beliefs.” Applied Cognitive Psychology.
Conspiratorial beliefs can endanger individuals and societies by increasing the likelihood of harmful behaviors such as the flouting of public health guidelines. While scholars have identified various correlates of conspiracy beliefs, one factor that has received scant attention is depressive symptoms. We use three large surveys to explore the connection between depression and conspiracy beliefs. We find a consistent association, with the extent of the relationship depending on individual and situational factors. Interestingly, those from relatively advantaged demographic groups (i.e., White, male, high income, educated) exhibit a stronger relationship between depression and conspiracy beliefs than those not from such groups. Furthermore, situational variables that ostensibly increase stress—such as having COVID‐19 or parenting during COVID‐19—exacerbate the relationship while those that seem to decrease stress, such as social support, vitiate it. The results provide insight about the development of targeted interventions and accentuate the need for theorizing about the mechanisms that lead depression to correlate with conspiracy beliefs.
Chloe Wittenberg, Matthew A. Baum, Adam Berinsky, Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, and Teppei Yamamoto. Forthcoming. “Media Measurement Matters: Estimating the Persuasive Effects of Partisan Media with Survey and Behavioral Data.” The Journal of Politics.

To what extent do partisan media influence political attitudes and behavior in the United States? Although recent methodological advancements have improved scholars’ ability to identify the persuasiveness of partisan media, past studies typically rely on self-reported measures of media preferences, which may deviate from real-world news consumption. Integrating individual-level web-browsing data with a large-scale survey, we contrast survey-based indicators of stated preferences with behavioral measures of revealed preferences, based on the relative volume and slant of news individuals consume. Overall, we find that these measurement strategies generate differing conclusions regarding heterogeneity in partisan media’s persuasive impact. Whereas the stated preference measures raise the possibility of persuasion by counter-attitudinal sources, the revealed preference measures offer a more nuanced portrait of media effects. Specifically, among respondents who regularly consume ideologically slanted content, partisan media exposure appears to result in limited attitude change, with any observed treatment effects driven primarily by pro-attitudinal outlets.


 
2022
Matthew A. Baum, Alauna Safarpour, Jonathan Schulman, and Kristin Lunz-Trujillo. 11/1/2022. “Abortion is not influencing most voters as the midterms approach – economic issues are predominating in new survey.” The Conversation. Publisher's Version
Jon Green, James N. Druckman, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Katherine Ognyanova, Matthew Simonson, Jennifer Lin, Mauricio Santillana, and Roy H. Perlis. 10/24/2022. “Using General Messages to Persuade on a Politicized Scientific Issue.” British Journal of Political Science. Publisher's Version

Politics and science have become increasingly intertwined. Salient scientific issues such as climate change, evolution, and stem cell research become politicized, pitting partisans against one another. This creates a challenge of how to effectively communicate on such issues. Recent work emphasizes the need for tailored messages to specific groups. Here, we focus on whether generalized messages also can matter. We do so in the context of a highly polarized issue – extreme COVID-19 vaccine resistance. The results show that science-based, moral frame, and social norm messages move behavioral intentions, and do so by the same amount across the population (i.e., homogenous effects). Counter to common portrayals, the politicization of science does not preclude using broad messages that resonate with the entire population.

using-general-messages-to-persuade-on-a-politicized-scientific-issue.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Alauna Safarpour, and Kristin Lunz Trujillo. 8/22/2022. “4 reasons why abortion laws often clash with the majority's preferences in the US, from constitutional design to low voter turnout.” The Conversation. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum, Bryce Jensen Dietrich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Maya Sen. 7/2022. “Sensitive Questions, Spillover Effects, and Asking About Citizenship on the U.S. Census.” Journal of Politics, 84, 3, Pp. 1869-1873. Publisher's Version

 

Many topics social scientists study are sensitive in nature. Although we know directly asking

about these issues can lead to nonresponse, we know very little about how such questions could potentially influence responses to questions later in the survey. In this study, we use the Trump administration’s proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census to demonstrate how such spillover effects can undermine important survey-based estimates, like the number of Hispanics in the United States. Using a large survey experiment (n = 9,035 respondents), we find that asking about citizenship status significantly increases the percent of questions skipped and makes respondents less likely to report having members of their household wh  are of Hispanic ethnicity. Not only does this demonstrate how sensitive questions can have important downstream effects, but our results also speak to an important public policy debate which will likely arise again in the future.

 

CitizenshipQuestion_JOP.pdf
Matthew A. Baum and Katherine Ognyanov. 5/11/2022. “Americans love conspiracy theories, and that's dangerous for everyone.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Publisher's Version
See also: Op-Eds, Media, Politics
2020
David Lazer, Jonathan Green, Matthew A. Baum, Alexi Quintana Mathé, Katherine Ognyanova, Adina Gitomer, James N. Druckman, Matthew Simonson, Hanyu Chwe, Roy H. Perlis, Jennifer Lin, and Mauricio Santillana. 10/21/2020. “These nine swing states will see the biggest ‘blue shift’ as ballots are counted after the election.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum. 6/28/2020. “Trump Still Has Approval Ratings Far Higher than George Bush. Here's Why.” Los Angeles Times. Publisher's Version
See also: Op-Eds, Politics
Irene Pasquetto, Matthew A. Baum, Eaman Jahani, and Alla Baranovsky. 5/27/2020. Understanding Misinformation on Mobile Instant Messengers (MIMs) in Developing Countries. Shorenstein Center. Cambridge: Harvard Kennedy School, Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics and Public Policy. Publisher's Version misinfo-on-mims-shorenstein-center-may-2020.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Dara Kay Cohen, and Susanne Schwarz. 5/6/2020. “(Sex) Crime and Punishment: How Legally Irrelevant Details Influence Crime Reporting and Sanctioning Decisions.” Political Behavior. Publisher's Version
Recent prominent rape cases have raised concerns that the US exhibits a “culture of rape,” wherein victims are often disbelieved and blamed. We present an empirical conceptualization of rape culture, outlining four key features: blaming victims, empathizing with perpetrators, assuming the victims’ consent, and questioning victims’ credibility. In a series of experimental studies, we evaluate the relative impact of different types of rape culture biases on the reporting of rape, and how it is punished. We test how participants’ exposure to legally irrelevant details related to rape culture affects their decision-making. We find that exposure to certain details—relating to the victim’s consent and credibility—significantly decreasesparticipants’ propensities to recommend a rape case be reported to police or to advocate for a severe punishment for the perpetrator. The same biases do not emerge in robbery cases, suggesting that rape is regarded differently from other violent crimes.
sexcrimeandpunishment_polbehavior.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Katherine Ognyanova, and David Lazer. 4/29/2020. “These Three Governors are Reopening Their States Faster than Their Voters Want: That's What Our Polling Found in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum. 3/30/2020. “Trump's Coronavirus Approval Rating: Why its Going Up.” Los Angeles Times. Publisher's Version
See also: Op-Eds, Politics
2019
Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Matthew A. Baum, J. Berinsky, Adam, and Teppei Yamamoto. 11/2019. “Persuading the Enemy: Estimating the Persuasive Effects of Partisan Media with the Preference-Incorporating Choice and Assignment Design.” American Political Science Review, 113, 4, Pp. 902-916. Publisher's Version
Does media choice cause polarization, or merely reflect it? We investigate a critical aspect of this puzzle: how partisan media contribute to attitude polarization among different groups of media consumers. We implement a new experimental design, called the Preference-Incorporating Choice and Assignment (PICA) design, that incorporates both free choice and forced exposure. We estimate jointly the degree of polarization caused by selective exposure and the persuasive effect of partisan media. Our design also enables us to conduct sensitivity analyses accounting for discrepancies between stated preferences and actual choice, a potential source of bias ignored in previous studies using similar designs. We find that partisan media can polarize both its regular consumers and inadvertent audiences who would otherwise not consume it, but ideologically-opposing media potentially also can ameliorate existing polarization between consumers. Taken together, these results deepen our understanding of when and how media polarize individuals. 
mediachoice_apsr_preprint.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Dannagal G. Young, and Duncan Prettyman. 5/13/2019. “vMOBilize: Gamifying Civic Learning and Political Engagement in a Classroom Context.” Journal of Political Science Education. Publisher's Version

This study presents the results of a quasi-experiment (N= 307) conducted over the course of 10 weeks in Spring of 2016 to assess the effectiveness of a game platform designed to facilitate political engagement, attention, efficacy, knowledge, and participation among college students. Results indicate positive effects of gameplay on several key dimensions of political engagement, including voter registration, virtual political participation (following a candidate on Twitter, liking a candidate on Facebook, and watching debates), and consumption of public affairs information (including National Public Radio, non-NPR political talk radio, and online news aggregator sites). Additionally, gameplay provided significantly greater benefits to students with the lowest rates of political knowledge at baseline. Overall, participants reported high rates of game satisfaction, with 79% of participants reporting being very to somewhat pleased if they were asked to play the game again. These results are discussed in terms of the implications for civics education, pedagogy, and political engagement among young people.

vmobilize_jpe_preprint.pdf
Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Matthew A. Baum, and Adam J. Berinsky. 5/9/2019. “Polarization and Media Usage: Disentangling Causality.” In Oxford Handbook of Electoral Persuasion. New York: Oxford University Press. Publisher's Version
This chapter examines the literature concerning media choice and partisan polarization.  The past few decades have seen enormous growth in the number of television and internet news sources, giving consumers dramatically increased choices.  Previous research has suggested two distinct links between media choice and partisan polarization: partisan media as a reflectionof polarization, as partisans self-select into media that conforms with their preexisting views, or as a causeof polarization, when outlets present one-sided stories that persuade people to adopt more extreme views.  This chapter discusses how the literature in these two research traditions has diverged, as well as more recent research attempting to bridge this divide.  Using novel methods, these studies have drawn together both self-selection and causal research designs to provide a more complete picture of media choice effects, and expanded the literature to more recent mediums, including the internet and social media.
polarizationcausality180806.pdf
Matthew Barreto, Chris Warshaw, Matthew A. Baum, Bryce J. Dietrich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Maya Sen. 4/22/2019. “New Research Shows Just How Badly a Citizenship Question Would Hurt the 2020 Census.” Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum and Dannagal G. Young. 2019. “The “Daily Them": Hybridity, Political Polarization and Presidential Leadership in a Digital Media Age.” In New Directions in Public Opinion Research, Third Edition. Routledge. Publisher's Version baumyoung_dailythem_proofs.pdf
Kenneth Joseph, Briony Swire-Thompson, Hannah Masuga, Matthew A. Baum, and David Lazer. 2019. “Polarized, Together: Comparing Partisan Support for Trump’s Tweets Using Survey and Platform-based Measures.” Thirteenth international AAAI conference on web and social media (ICWSM) 13 (1), Pp. 290-301. Munich, Germany: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Publisher's Version

Using both survey- and platform-based measures of support, we study how polarization manifests for 4,313 of President Donald Trump’s tweets since he was inaugurated in 2017. We find high levels of polarization in response to Trump’s tweets. However, after controlling for mean differences, we surprisingly find a high degree of agreement across partisan lines across both survey and platform-based measures. This suggests that Republicans and Democrats, while disagreeing on an absolute level, tend to agree on the relative quality of Trump’s tweets. We assess potential reasons for this, for example, by studying how support changes in response to tweets containing positive versus negative language.We also explore how Democrats and Republicans respond to tweets containing insults of individuals with particular socio-demographics, finding that Republican support decreases when Republicans, relative to Democrats, are insulted, and Democrats respond negatively to insults of women and members of the media.

polarizedtogether_icwsm.pdf

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