Opinion polls may inadvertently affect public opinion itself as people change attitudes after learning what others think. A disconcerting possibility is that opinion polls have the ability to create information cascades or spirals of silence where the majority opinion becomes increasingly larger over time. Testing this hypothesis on attitudes towards Syrian refugees and mandatory measles vaccination, survey experiments are performed on a population based web panel using a novel automated procedure that measure the influence of an initial poll over subsequent polls. No indications of spiraling opinion gaps over time between the treatment and control groups are identified. The polls do however trigger a cognitive response as the treated respondents become more opinionated and alter their justification for their answers.
In recent years, OECD countries have faced pressure to cut the costs of social security and different strategies have been utilized to achieve this:
Stricter eligibility requirements.
Reduced level of benefits.
Reduced maximum duration of benefits.
In order to better understand the political support for these three strategies, this contribution reports the results from a survey designed to measure which of them that the general population would prefer given the assumption that cost cuts are necessary.
A key difference between them is how they distribute the burden of cost reductions between different benefit recipients: Should the benefit reduction be equally distributed among all recipients (reduce the benefit level) or should it be concentrated on some groups (tighten eligibility)?
The main argument in favour of an equal distribution is that it would minimize the benefit reduction experienced by any particular individual. However, there are several arguments for an unequal distribution as well, for example that some groups could be less deserving (or include more “cheaters”) than others or that there could be larger efficiency gains from reducing benefits to some groups rather than to other groups.
For a given reduction in total costs, there is a trade-off between the desire to avoid large individual benefit reductions and the concern for protecting some groups of benefit recipients more than other groups. Different preferences for how to achieve cost cuts will reflect how individuals trade off these concerns.
We find large heterogeneity in how people make the trade-off and thus which of the strategies for cost reduction that they prefer. Right-wingers typically prefer to tighten the eligibility criteria, while left-wingers typically prefer to reduce the benefit level. Furthermore, we find that this difference does not primarily reflect different attitudes towards income and wealth redistribution, but are likely to reflect views about the deservingness of different groups and the importance of efficiency considerations.
Literature on the topic has proposed that the reflection of society in a representative body in terms of relevant socio-economic characteristics improves the quality of democratic representation. Descriptive representation would help disadvantaged groups in their gaining of equal status, and it has been shown to affect policies positively—especially for those who have been disadvantaged. It is less clear, however, how citizens evaluate descriptive representation. We examine this concept from an individual perspective, and ask whether decisions are more legitimate when they are made by groups that reflect society in certain characteristics. For this purpose, we designed a survey experiment that we ran in Norway in 2014. We find that people are more willing to accept a decision when it is made by a group of people like them, and who are also experts. Moreover, the traditionally less advantaged groups tend to value descriptive representation more than other citizens
Declining revenues from offline and online ads has led publishers to pursue new avenues, such as native advertising: camouflaging ads as news. Critics of native advertising claim that this form of advertising blurs the boundaries between editorial and commercial content, and can reduce the audiences’ trust in editorial content. However, little research has assessed the possible effects of native ads on audiences’ trust in news. With an experimental design embedded in an online survey (N = 733) representative of the Norwegian population, this study explores the consequences of political native advertising for citizens’ trust in political news. This article discusses how political native advertising poses a challenge to the boundary between journalism and advertising as well as the boundary between journalism and powerful elites. Our study examines (1) how prominently native advertisements should be labelled in order for readers to recognize them as advertising content and (2) whether exposure to such ads reduces readers’ trust in political news. Our most important finding shows that when explicitly labelled, native advertising by political parties can reduce people’s trust in political news.
In times of increasing globalisation scholars put considerable efforts into understanding the consequences of immigration to the welfare state. One important factor in this respect is public support for the welfare state and redistribution. This article presents results from a unique survey experiment and a panel study in three European countries (Norway, Germany and the Netherlands) in order to examine whether and how individuals change their preference for redistribution when faced with immigration. Theoretically, citizens with high incomes should be especially likely to withdraw their support for redistribution because they fear the increased fiscal burden, whereas other types of citizens might ask for more compensation for the increased labour market risks caused by immigration. The empirical evidence reveals that only respondents with high incomes and those who face low labour market competition withdraw support for redistribution when faced with immigration.
This study argues for a generic approach to selective exposure research. Empirically, we dismantle the relative importance of three different forms of selective exposure to like-minded political news that has dominated the communication literature: message cues, party cues and source cues. In a uniquely designed conjoint experiment, a large probability-based panel of Norwegian citizens was faced with news headline choices, randomly varying several different factors simultaneously. We not only show that the effects are in line with previous research but also, more importantly, that these effects are additive and distinct effects that prevail when three known countervailing forces are accounted for. We conclude that scholars should move towards a more generic and less country specific approach to selective exposure research.
Democracies are typically considered more legitimate than other types of regimes because they allow the citizens to participate in the policy decision-making process. Others argue that the policy output matters most, and citizen influence plays a lesser role. This study presents two survey experiments on the micro foundations of these two sources of political legitimacy, thus contributing to an emerging literature that experimentally investigates the effects of democratic procedures in small-scale settings. Respondents who saw the decision going in their favour found the decision much more acceptable than the respondents who preferred another outcome. Conversely, decision-making influence generally did not serve as a legitimising factor among the respondents. This result supports the argument that citizens prefer a stealth democracy where they are minimally involved in democratic decision-making processes.
Is more money better than less? Not always. It depends on the situation. If more money for oneself means less money for a stranger, the majority of participants in dictator games choose less money for themselves. But if they really are alone - and thus do not have to share with a stranger - will they always choose to receive more money instead of less? Here, I report results from seven experiments. On average, one-third of a total of 3,351 participants chose to receive less money instead of more. In one experiment even a majority choose to receive less money. In four of the experiments the participants also faced the corresponding dictator experiment where there is an explicit anonymous recipient of the foregone money. There is a high positive correlation between “giving” as a dictator and when alone. This result opens up possibilities for broader interpretations that go beyond social the preference interpretation of giving in the dictator game.
We know that the costs of implementing various climate change mitigation policies are not uniformly distributed across individuals in society, but we do not know to what extent this unequal cost distribution influences public support for these various policies. This study shows that cost distribution is an important explanation for variations in public support for various climate policies. Using individual-level data on industry of employment and support for a range of climate policies, we find that those employed in the fossil fuel industry are less likely to support climate policies that are particularly costly to their industry, but are as likely as everybody else to support policies with lower costs to the industry. This finding challenges the traditional bifurcation between climate change "skeptics" and "acceptors." Furthermore, we find that opposition to renewable energy by large fossil fuel producers and consumers, identified in the political economy literature, is not uniformly found among these companies’ employees. The most important implication of this study for policy makers is that support for climate policies is sensitive to the compensation of exposed groups and stimulation of alternative avenues for employment.
Radical Right Parties (RRPs) consistently attract more male than female voters. Puzzlingly, there is no equally consistent gender difference in policy preferences on the main issues of these parties – immigration and minority integration policies. Indeed, in some countries, for instance the UK, women have as restrictive immigration policy preferences as men, but are still less likely to vote for RRPs. This article proposes a novel answer to this gender gap puzzle that emphasizes the normative conflicts about prejudice and discrimination that surround RRPs across Europe. It uses representative survey data to show, for the first time, that women are more likely than men to be motivated to control prejudice, and that this difference in motivations has political consequences. More specifically, the study demonstrates that the higher prevalence of internal motivation to control prejudice among women accounts for the gender gap in voting for RRPs that become trapped in conflicts over discrimination and prejudice. Voting patterns for RPPs that have been able to defuse normative concerns about prejudice, such as the Progress Party currently in government in Norway, are different.
By now, research has painted a coherent picture of the characteristics and motivations of the citizens supporting Radical Right parties. Nevertheless, one of the most consistent and universal characteristics of the Radical Right electorate has remained puzzling: the considerable overrepresentation of men among these parties’ voters in virtually all countries and at all elections. This ‘gender gap’ – which can substantially constrain parties’ electoral success – could only be partially explained by typical models of Radical Right voting. This suggests that conventional accounts do not fully grasp all aspects of electoral behavior.This dissertation systematically investigates the causes of the overrepresentation of men in the Radical Right electorate, in a range of European countries, from the point of view of various models of voting behavior. It shows that men’s and women’s differing socio-economic conditions play a role in shaping the gap, but mainly so among socio-economically more left-wing Radical Right parties. No evidence was found that suggests that men are more likely to agree with the Radical Right’s ideology. New data collection does show, however, that men are less likely than women to be deterred by both the social stigma and the ongoing association with prejudice that surround many Radical Right parties. Indeed, the last chapter shows that men are systematically more likely to vote for extreme or stigmatized parties of any political color. This dissertation proposes we can better comprehend gendered voting patterns and further increase our understanding of the Radical Right electorate by combining socio-structural, attitudinal and socio-psychological models.