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The number of multiracial candidates seeking office is growing in an increasingly diverse America. This raises questions about how the media frame candidates with potentially complex racial backgrounds and how voters respond to these frames. We investigate the impact of media frames that emphasize race and gender attributes using survey experiments on Kamala Harris—the first Black woman and first Asian woman vice president. Our findings are mixed. In a survey experiment conducted after her nomination, headlines emphasizing different elements of Harris’s race or gender had no impact on public attitudes. In an experiment conducted after Harris was inaugurated, however, headlines that cued her gender only or both her gender and her Black racial background boosted popular support. Taken together, these findings suggest that some types of identity-based cues may matter, but the effects are sensitive to experimental settings and contexts.
How can we elicit honest responses in surveys? Conjoint analysis has become a popular tool to address social desirability bias (SDB), or systematic survey misreporting on sensitive topics. However, there has been no direct evidence showing its suitability for this purpose. We propose a novel experimental design to identify conjoint analysis’s ability to mitigate SDB. Specifically, we compare a standard, fully randomized conjoint design against a partially randomized design where only the sensitive attribute is varied between the two profiles in each task. We also include a control condition to remove confounding due to the increased attention to the varying attribute under the partially randomized design. We implement this empirical strategy in two studies on attitudes about environmental conservation and preferences about congressional candidates. In both studies, our estimates indicate that the fully randomized conjoint design could reduce SDB for the average marginal component effect (AMCE) of the sensitive attribute by about two-thirds of the AMCE itself. Although encouraging, we caution that our results are exploratory and exhibit some sensitivity to alternative model specifications, suggesting the need for additional confirmatory evidence based on the proposed design.
Although many governments invest significant resources in public-diplomacy campaigns, there is little well-identified evidence of these efforts’ effectiveness. We examine the effects of a major type of public diplomacy: high-level visits by national leaders to other countries. We combine a dataset of the international travels of 15 leaders from 9 countries over 11 years, with worldwide surveys administered in 38 host countries. By comparing 32,456 respondents interviewed just before or just after the first day of each visit, we show that visiting leaders can increase public approval among foreign citizens. The effects do not fade away immediately and are particularly large when public-diplomacy activities are reported by the news media. In most cases, military capability differentials between visiting and host countries do not appear to confer an advantage in the influence of public diplomacy. These findings suggest that public diplomacy has the potential to shape global affairs through soft power.
This chapter shows that preferences do not differ greatly when we separate students out by their race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background. All groups favor applicants and faculty candidates from underrepresented minority racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The one area where we see preference polarization is with respect to gender non-binary applicants and faculty candidates. Women tend to favor gender non-binary individuals but men disfavor them, consistent with intolerance among men toward gender non-conformity.
This chapter describes the preferences we estimate on attitudes toward undergraduate admissions and faculty recruitment across our full population of student particpants. It shows that students prioritize academic and professional achievement most, but also that they give preference to all underrepresented minority racial and ethnic groups over whites, to women and gender non-binary applicants over men, and to applicants from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds over the wealthy. They also give preference to recruited varsity athletes and to legacy applicants.
This chapter reports on results of similar conjoint experiments conducted at the United States Naval Academy and at the London School of Economics. At both institutions, we find pro-diversity preferences that largely complement those from other schools. However, at the Naval Academy we find no preferences in favor of women applicants despite the fact that women are underrepresented among students at the Academy (whereas they make up majorities at most undergraduate institutions), and we find that preferences against gender non-binary applicants and faculty candidates are far stronger at the Naval Academy than at other institutions. At the London School of Economics, we find positive but smaller preferences in favor of blacks but not for East Asian or South Asian applicants but we find strong preferences in favor of applicants from disadvantages socioeconomic backgrounds.
Fully randomized conjoint analysis can mitigate many of the shortcomings of traditional survey methods in estimating attitudes on controversial topics. This chapter explains how we applied conjoint analysis at seven universities and describes the population of participants in our experiments.
The concluding chapter provides a summary of the results reported in the previous chapters, emphasizing the overall preferences in favor of racial/ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic diversity and the broad consensus around these preferences across groups of participants. The chapter then reviews scholarship on how diversity affects campus communities and individual students and faculty, emphasizing that effects at the community level are widely regarded to be positive whereas deeper debates surround impact at the individual level. The chapter concludes by considering current challenges to affirmative action in college admissions in the courts and from those arguing for diversity of viewpoints rather than demographics.
The demographic composition of campuses has changed dramatically in recent decades, both among students and faculty. This chapter documents those trends as well as persistent demographic inequalities. It then reviews the policies that created such inequalities as well as more recent attempts to mitigate them. It also reviews recent protests and controversies surrounding campus diversity.
This chapter shows that the rate of return to academic achievement (for students) or professional achievement (for faculty) does not differ across key demographic categories, by race/ethnicity or gender. That is, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans all receive commensurate increases in likelihood of selection in our experiments for similar increases in academic achievement. Women, men, and gender non-binary faculty candidates are rewarded at commensurate rates for stronger professional achivement. The rates of return to achievement do not differ across demographic groups.
Debates over diversity on campus are intense, they command media attention, and the courts care about how efforts to increase diversity affect students’ experiences and attitudes. Yet we know little about what students really think because measuring attitudes on politically charged issues is challenging. This book adopts an innovative approach to addressing this challenge.