Publications

2015
Sveinung Arnesen, Stefan Dahlberg, and Jonas Linde. 2015. “Not only measuring but also shaping the opinion? A time-series survey experiment on the effect of polls on public opinion..” In American Political Science Association Conference. San Francisco.
not_only_measuring_but_also_10_aug.pdf
Sveinung Arnesen and Stefan Dahlberg. 2015. “Opinion Polls’ Effect on Political Attitudes - Results from a time-series survey experiment in a general population web panel.” In European Consortium for Political research . Abstract

When people form their preferences on political issues, other people’s opinions matter to them. There is thus a potential self-reinforcing mechanism at play when individuals form their political preferences, where the aggregate level of support and opposition shaping public opinion. In this paper we present an experiment where we inform the treatment groups with a skewed distribution of opinions about a political issue, and then track the treatment effect over a sequence of polls with the aim of exploring the effect of the treatment over time. The research design of the presented experiment gauges to what extent knowledge of opinion polls as such have a lasting impact on people’s political preferences. Can polls themselves change the dynamics of public opinion formation among the citizens? To facilitate the implementation of the experimental design, we introduce a technical innovation which we label the Dynamic Response Feedback. This procedure automatically generates a pie chart with poll distributions from previous responses and uses it as information to respondents who are taking the survey in present time. By repeating this procedure several times a series of poll distributions are created within one survey wave. The survey experiment is conducted on 2500 respondents in The Norwegian Citizen Panel, which is a probability based web panel of Norwegian residents. The paper presents results from an experiment on the question of whether or not the respondents think that measles vaccination of children should be compulsory. We find that when respondents are presented with a poll that is slightly skewed in the sense that it displays a higher share of supporters for the issue than the true share (as found in the control group), the aggregate mean of the treated respondents also becomes higher. Moreover, the effect of the initial poll distribution has a diminishing effect over time which resembles a fading autoregressive (AR1) process becomes a factor of its own.

Kjersti Fløttum and Endre Tvinnereim. 2015. “Som du roper i skogen, får du svar..” Bergens Tidende. Read here
Sigve Tjøtta. 2015. “You`ll never walk alone. An experimental study on receiving money. (Submitted).” In 10th Nordic Conference on Behavioral and Experimental Economics. Tampere, Finland.
working_paper_03-16.pdf
2014

The collective action problem hampering a globally coordinated international response to climate change is well known. In countries such as Canada, the US and Norway, political elites have frequently invoked the language of fairness as an excuse to limit domestic and international commitments, arguing that a fair international solution would also constrain large emitters like China. In this context, this paper asks whether citizen support for multilateral climate policies also depends on whether other countries are seen to reciprocate. We implemented three population-based survey experiments in the US, Canada, and Norway, asking subjects whether they think their country should commit to emission reductions at the climate talks in Warsaw, Poland in 2013. In each country, a randomly assigned portion of the sample was presented with a statement suggesting that another large, identified country – typically China – may choose not to cooperate. We find that support for signing a new international climate agreement is to varying degrees conditioned by participation from China. In Canada, mention of the chance that China may not sign the international treaty does not significantly alter public support for Canadian participation in an international climate treaty. In contrast, public support for international climate action is more conditional in Norway, where support for signing a new treaty declines significantly if China’s participation is not assured. The US is in a middle position. This suggests that country size and dependence on fossil fuels may be more important than national traditions for multilateral cooperation in predicting support for unilateral climate action.

This study examines whether a politically sponsored framing of health care issues – prominent in the news – affects how citizens evaluate the efficiency of the health care system, and whether or not these effects vary among subsets of voters, and whether or not the level of exposure to political news increases or decreases such effects.

Elisabeth Ivarsflaten and John Roaldset. 2014. Holdninger til prioritering i helsesektoren: Resultater fra Norsk medborgerpanel. Norwegian Citizen Panel. Bergen: University of Bergen. Publisher's Version Abstract

Denne rapporten gir en oversikt over den til nå mest omfattende kartleggingen av norske medborgeres holdninger til prioritering i helsesektoren. Det er også så langt vi vet den første studien i Norge som gjør bruk av spørreundersøkelseseksperimenter til å teste forskjeller i oppslutning om ulike prioriteringskriterier. Et overordnet resultat er at helse er viktig for norske medborgere og at dette er et felt hvor vi finner tydelige holdninger som ikke så lett påvirkes av små endringer i spørsmålsstilling. En årsak til dette kan være at svært mange medborgere har egen erfaring med helsevesenet. Hele 80% av respondentene rapporterer at de har vært i kontakt med lege eller sykehus det siste året. Dette til tross for at de aller fleste respondentene mener de har god helse. De fleste er villige til å bruke mye ressurser på helse og mange oppfatter at en ikke kan gjøre alle nyttige behandlinger med de tilgjengelige ressursene. Interessant nok, synes et flertall at det er greit at det tas kostnadshensyn ved valg av behandling i helsevesenet, i alle fall så fremt dette medfører at andre pasienter får behandling som ellers ikke ville fått det. I tråd med dette finner vi også at så lenge pasientene blir tilbudt en «nesten like god» behandling og frigjorte ressurser kommer andre pasienter til gode, er det et klart flertall som aksepterer avslag på foretrukket behandling. Undersøkelsen viser faktisk omtrent like stor aksept for avslag av slike årsaker som for rent medisinskfaglig begrunnede avslag. Et annet sentralt og viktig funn er at prosessen som følges og blir kommunisert har betydning for om avslag på foretrukket behandling aksepteres. Vi finner at flere respondenter aksepterer et avslag dersom det er forankret i nasjonale eksperterters enighet og etter involvering av pasientorganisasjoner enn dersom avslaget beror på legens vurdering alene. Et interessant funn i undersøkelsen er at en betydelig andel av respondentene selv har erfart ressursknapphet i helsevesenet. De fleste av disse har opplevd å få utsatt behandling (ca. 30 %), men en betydelig andel har også opplevd å ikke få den behandling som ville vært best for dem (ca. 12%). Det viser seg at de respondentene som har slik egen erfaring med ressursknapphet er mer kritisk til prioritering i helsesektoren enn de som ikke har slik erfaring. Undersøkelsen viser at det er god oppslutning om behovet for å prioritere mellom pasienter etter kjernekriteriene alvorlighet og nytte. Det er likevel markant større oppslutning om at pasienter med alvorlig sykdom blir prioritert enn det er for at pasienter med størst nytte av behandling blir prioritert. Undersøkelsen viser videre at det har signifikant betydning for medborgernes oppslutning om forebygging at flere liv kan reddes ved forebygging enn ved behandling. Oppslutningen om egenbetaling selv for behandling som har liten helseforbedring er, derimot, relativt lav.

In political science, it is held that a democratic regime is more legitimate than other types of regimes because it allows its citizens to take part in the policy decision-making process. Others argue that the policy output matters the most, and that citizen influence play a lesser role than recognized. This paper presents a survey experiment on the micro foundations of these two sources of political legitimacy. In a 2x2 factorial design experiment, respondents of the Norwegian Citizen Panel took part in a real decision on how to spend NOK 5000,-. The outcome of the decision and the respondents’ ability to influence the outcome were manipulated, and the respondents were asked to rate how acceptable they found the decision. It turned out that, in general, the respondents with an influence on the decision found the decision no more acceptable than those who had no influence. The only exception was those with high political interest: They tended to find the decision more acceptable if they had had the opportunity to influence the outcome than if they had not. What most respondents reacted to, however, was whether or not the outcome turned out as they had wanted it to. Those who saw the decision going against their preferences found the decision much less acceptable than the respondents whose decision was in accordance with their stated wishes. Though the robustness of these early findings must be tested, the results indicate that at the micro level, decision making influence is a less important source of political legitimacy than it is claimed to be at the macro level.

Sveinung Arnesen. 2014. “The legitimacy of collective decisions – Results from a real money.” In European Consortium for Political research . Abstract

It is commonly held that democracies are more legitimate than other types of regimes because they allow the citizens to take part in the policy decision-making process. Others argue that the policy output matters the most, and that citizen influence play a lesser role than recognized. This paper presents a survey experiment 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 a 2x2 factorial design experiment, respondents of the Norwegian Citizen Panel took part in a real decision on how to spend NOK 5000,-. The outcome of the decision and the respondents’ ability to influence the outcome were manipulated, and the respondents were asked to rate how acceptable they found the decision. What most respondents reacted to was whether or not the outcome turned out as they had wanted it to. Those who saw the decision going against their preferences found the decision much less acceptable than the respondents whose decision was in accordance with their stated wishes. Decision making influence, on the other hand, did in general not serve as a legitimizing factor among the respondents. An exception was those with high political interest, as they tended to find the decision more acceptable if they had had the opportunity to influence the outcome than if they had not. This treatment effect heterogeneity is elaborated on and discussed in the paper.

Kjersti Fløttum. 2014. “Linguistic mediation of climate change discourse.” ASp, 65, Pp. 7-20. Download article here

Even though metaphors in political rhetoric have been studied since Aristotle, the metaphor’s persuasive ability is still not fully understood. Decades of experimental studies have, however, contributed to increased knowledge, indicating that metaphors are slightly more effective than literal language. In this paper, I do not only investigate the effects of a political conceptual metaphor versus literal language, but also how political party preference may be associated to the increase or decrease in such effects. Through data culled from the Norwegian Citizen Panel (N = 821), I employ a survey experiment to examine whether a conceptual metaphor – prominent in conservative politician’s rhetoric – yields a stronger effect than a literal equivalent, regarding citizens’ attitudes, and whether citizens’ political party preference increases or decreases such an effect. The results contradict previous results, displaying that there is no significant difference between the use of metaphor and the literal language. In fact, the literal yields the strongest effect. Whether political party preference is effective remains unknown, as the results are inconclusive.

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