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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Subadditivity And The Unpacking Effect In Political Opinions, Renan Levine Dec 2007

Subadditivity And The Unpacking Effect In Political Opinions, Renan Levine

Renan Levine

To explain subadditivity in judgments of probabilities, support theory (Tversky and Koehler 1994) emphasizes the increased availability of information about component events. This paper demonstrates that similar processes occur in responses to public opinion questions. When a broad description of a policy is “unpacked” into more specific component policies, support for the component policies exceeds support for the original, broad policy. This effect is especially strong when one or more of the unpacked policies make information available to the decision-maker that was not accessible when the broad description was provided. This behavior violates Luce’s (1959) axiom of independence of ...


Do Polls Limit Wishful Thinking?, Valery Kisilevsky, Renan Levine Nov 2007

Do Polls Limit Wishful Thinking?, Valery Kisilevsky, Renan Levine

Renan Levine

Previous studies of election predictions have emphasized the effect wishful thinking has on predictions. Wishful thinking was evident in predictions made by partisan respondents to the 2006 Israel Election Study, but does not fully explain the observed variation even when controlling for levels of knowledge and political engagement. To test whether this wishful thinking is the result of a failure to recall the latest polls accurately, or an inability to use this information, we showed some people the latest polls before they make their predictions using a concurrent internet survey-experiment. Others were asked to recall each party’s polling numbers ...


Fringe Candidates Can Change Perceptions Of Centrist Candidates, Renan Levine Nov 2007

Fringe Candidates Can Change Perceptions Of Centrist Candidates, Renan Levine

Renan Levine

Two experiments demonstrate that adding an extreme third candidate to the choice set causes perceptions of the nearest candidate to appear more centrist. This change in perceptions is large enough to cause this candidate to appear closer to many voters. causal mechanism driving the shift in perceptions is attributed to information about the range of possible values provided by the extreme candidate. This is consistent with “range effects” identified by Parducci (1965) and used to explain behavior in a wide variety of other contexts. In politics, range effects may help a major party candidate win the median voter when an ...


Message Or Messenger? The Limits Of Moral Leadership, Renan Levine, Laura B. Stephenson Sep 2007

Message Or Messenger? The Limits Of Moral Leadership, Renan Levine, Laura B. Stephenson

Renan Levine

Media coverage of policies sometimes includes quotes from opinion leaders, including clergy and politicians. In an experiment implemented on campuses in two countries, we test the impact of a religious leader and a political leader by seeing how opinions change when these leaders frame their comments using a material or ethical terms. We find that changing the identity of the messenger alters what considerations factor into our subjects’ deliberations about stem-cell research and government spending cuts to pay off the government debt. However, the efficacy of the leader does not depend on the content of the message. Instead, the messenger ...


Why Are There So Many Parties? Understanding Changes In The Canadian Federal Party System, James Farney, Renan Levine Jun 2007

Why Are There So Many Parties? Understanding Changes In The Canadian Federal Party System, James Farney, Renan Levine

Renan Levine

At least three parties have contested every Canadian federal election since 1925. Yet, the existing comparative literature fails to explain why Canada has so many parties compared to other countries or recent changes in the party system. We can accommodate changes in the Canadian party system by focusing on the institutional incentives that lead to new, non-centrist, parties forming and attracting votes. These incentives exist both when the winner of an election is widely expected and when there is a chance of a minority government. These incentives are reinforced by voters’ lack of clarity over which two parties are competitive ...


Canadian Voting Behaviour In Comparative Perspective, James Farney, Renan Levine Apr 2007

Canadian Voting Behaviour In Comparative Perspective, James Farney, Renan Levine

Renan Levine

The existing comparative literature on voting behaviour and elections does not always succeed in including Canada in parsimonious theories about elections around the world. Of the four, long-term influences on the vote such as regional identities and cultures (or their apparent lack of influence) have received the most attention in Canada (see Kanji 2002 and Gidengail 1993 for reviews). Scholars seeking to understand particular elections in Canada have also long emphasized election-specific short-term influences on the vote as much of the historic competition between the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives seem to revolve around questions of who would best lead ...