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How do voters want their governments to respond when another country unilaterally withdraws from an international institution? We distinguish between negotiation approaches that vary in the degree to which they accommodate the withdrawing state's demands and argue that negotiation preferences are shaped by two issues. The first is voters’ exposure to the costs and benefits of accommodation. This exposure varies across issues, and we argue that citizens will generally prefer non-accommodation on zero-sum issues, but support more accommodation on cooperation issues, where non-accommodation puts existing cooperation gains at risk. Second, withdrawal negotiations create precedents, and citizens should therefore be less willing to accommodate the more they are concerned about the ripple effects of accommodation on the institution's stability. These concerns also confront citizens with two types of dilemmas depending on how favorably they view the institution themselves. To test our argument, we use survey evidence and a conjoint experiment conducted in Germany and Spain during the Brexit negotiations. We find that respondents overall are more willing to accommodate the UK on cooperation issues than on zero-sum issues, but also find evidence that Euroskeptics and Europhiles confront different issue-specific dilemmas. Our paper contributes to a better understanding of the dynamics surrounding the challenges to multilateralism that have proliferated in recent years.
How does naming and shaming affect public support for compliance with international agreements? We investigated this question by conducting survey experiments about the Paris Agreement, which relies on social pressure for enforcement. Our experiments, administered to national samples in the United States, produced three sets of findings. First, shaming by foreign countries shifted domestic public opinion in favor of compliance, increasing the political incentive to honor the Paris Agreement. Second, the effects of shaming varied with the behavior of the target. Shaming was more effective against partial compliers than against targets that took no action or honored their obligations completely. Moreover, even partial compliers managed to reduce the effects of shaming through the strategic use of counter-rhetoric. Third, identity moderated responses to shaming. Shaming by allies was not significantly more effective than shaming by non-allies, but Democrats were more receptive to shaming than Republicans. Overall, our experiments expose both the power and the limits of shaming as a strategy for enforcing the Paris Agreement. At the same time, they advance our understanding of the most significant environmental problem facing the planet.
Chapter five investigates how citizens’ charismatic attachments can be politically reactivated to facilitate new politicians’ consolidation of power. In particular, I argue that successors must depict themselves as symbolic reincarnations of the founder to reanimate the political significance of the followers’ attachments and garner support as new standard-bearers of the movement. Specifically, new leaders must implement two strategies: (1) bold, initially impressive policies and (2) symbolic associations with the charismatic founder. Face-to-face survey experiments conducted with movement followers in Argentina and Venezuela indicate that political candidates who implement these two strategies cause citizens to express stronger emotional attachment to the movement and increased support for the new leader. The results further challenge the notion that charismatic attachments are short-lived and underscore the potential of new leaders to resurrect the political intensity of those attachments.
Though avoiding blame is often a goal of elected officials, there are relatively few empirical examinations of how citizens assign blame during controversies. We are particularly interested in how this process works when an executive has been caught in a lie. Using two survey experiments, we examine whether subordinates can shield executives when they act as the face of a crisis. We first leverage a real-life situation involving the family separation crisis at the US–Mexico border in 2018. Respondents who read that Donald Trump falsely claimed he could not end the practice of family separation disapprove of his dishonesty. Yet this cost disappears when Trump’s then-Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, is the primary official discussed in news stories. We then replicate these findings in a fictional scenario involving a city mayor, showing that the mayor is partially shielded from negative appraisals when the city manager lies on his behalf.
Although placebo conditions are ubiquitous in survey experiments, little evidence guides common practices for their use and selection. How should scholars choose and construct placebos? First, we review the role of placebos in published survey experiments, finding that placebos are used inconsistently. Then, drawing on the medical literature, we clarify the role that placebos play in accounting for nonspecific effects (NSEs), or the effects of ancillary features of experiments. We argue that, in the absence of precise knowledge of NSEs that placebos are adjusting for, researchers should average over a corpus of many placebos. We demonstrate this agnostic approach to placebo construction through the use of GPT-2, a generative language model trained on a database of over 1 million internet news pages. Using GPT-2, we devise 5,000 distinct placebos and administer two experiments (N = 2,975). Our results illustrate how researchers can minimize their role in placebo selection through automated processes. We conclude by offering tools for incorporating computer-generated placebo text vignettes into survey experiments and developing recommendations for best practice.
Apology diplomacy promises to assuage historical grievances held by foreign publics, yet in practice appears to ignite domestic backlash, raising questions about its efficacy. This article develops a theory of how political apologies affect public approval of an apologizing government across domestic and foreign contexts. The authors test its implications using large-scale survey experiments in Japan and the United States. In the surveys, the authors present vignettes about World War II grievances and randomize the nature of a government apology. They find that apology-making, both as statements acknowledging wrongdoing and as expressions of remorse, boosts approval in the recipient state. But in the apologizing state, backlash is likely among individuals with strong hierarchical group dispositions—manifested as nationalism, social-dominance orientation, and conservatism—and among those who do not consider the recipient a strategically important partner. This microlevel evidence reveals how leaders face a crucial trade-off between improving support abroad and risking backlash at home, with implications for the study of diplomatic communication and transitional justice.
The article offers an overview of the use of survey experiments in political research by relying on available examples, bibliographic data and a content analysis of experimental manuscripts published in leading academic journals over the last two decades. After a short primer to the experimental approach, we discuss the development, applications and potential problems to internal and external validity in survey experimentation. The article also provides original examples, contrasting a traditional factorial and a more innovative conjoint design, to show how survey experiments can be used to test theory on relevant political topics. The main challenges and possibilities encountered in envisaging, planning and implementing survey experiments are examined. The article outlines the merits, limits and implications of the use of the experimental method in political research.
When things go wrong, and the government may be to blame, the public support enjoyed by elected executives is vulnerable. Because attribution of responsibility is often not straightforward, elected executives can influence citizens’ evaluations of their performance through presentational strategies, or explanatory frames which describe their roles in the management of the crisis. We examine the effectiveness of two ubiquitous presentational strategies: blame claiming, where the executive accepts responsibility, and blame deflecting, where the executive shifts blame to others. Using survey experiments incorporating stylised and real-world stimuli, we find that blame claiming is more effective than blame deflecting at managing public support in the aftermath of crises. In investigating the underlying mechanism, we find that blame claiming creates more favourable views of an executive’s leadership valence. While elected executives are better off avoiding crises, we find that when they occur, “stopping the buck” is a superior strategy to deflecting blame.
Participants that complete online surveys and experiments may be inattentive, which can hinder researchers’ ability to draw substantive or causal inferences. As such, many practitioners include multiple factual or instructional closed-ended manipulation checks to identify low-attention respondents. However, closed-ended manipulation checks are either correct or incorrect, which allows participants to more easily guess and it reduces the potential variation in attention between respondents. In response to these shortcomings, I develop an automatic and standardized methodology to measure attention that relies on the text that respondents provide in an open-ended manipulation check. There are multiple benefits to this approach. First, it provides a continuous measure of attention, which allows for greater variation between respondents. Second, it reduces the reliance on subjective, paid humans to analyze open-ended responses. Last, I outline how to diagnose the impact of inattentive workers on the overall results, including how to assess the average treatment effect of those respondents that likely received the treatment. I provide easy-to-use software in R to implement these suggestions for open-ended manipulation checks.
To reduce strategic misreporting on sensitive topics, survey researchers increasingly use list experiments rather than direct questions. However, the complexity of list experiments may increase nonstrategic misreporting. We provide the first empirical assessment of this trade-off between strategic and nonstrategic misreporting. We field list experiments on election turnout in two different countries, collecting measures of respondents’ true turnout. We detail and apply a partition validation method which uses true scores to distinguish true and false positives and negatives for list experiments, thus allowing detection of nonstrategic reporting errors. For both list experiments, partition validation reveals nonstrategic misreporting that is: undetected by standard diagnostics or validation; greater than assumed in extant simulation studies; and severe enough that direct turnout questions subject to strategic misreporting exhibit lower overall reporting error. We discuss how our results can inform the choice between list experiment and direct question for other topics and survey contexts.
Conjoint survey experiments have become a popular method for analyzing multidimensional preferences in political science. If properly implemented, conjoint experiments can obtain reliable measures of multidimensional preferences and estimate causal effects of multiple attributes on hypothetical choices or evaluations. This chapter provides an accessible overview of the methodology for designing, implementing, and analyzing conjoint survey experiments. Specically, we begin by detailing a new substantive example: how do candidate attributes affect the support of American respondents for candidates running against President Trump in 2020? We then discuss the theoretical underpinnings and key advantages of conjoint designs. We next provide guidelines for practitioners in designing and analyzing conjoint survey experiments. We conclude by discussing further design considerations, common conjoint applications, common criticisms, and possible future directions.
Ten years since the publication of the first edition of this handbook two things are clear: The world is no less complicated than it was a decade ago and we are better at designing, running, and analyzing experiments today than we were then. In light of these observations, in this chapter I highlight the areas in which political scientists and their collaborators have excelled and how they have done so; but I also point out the challenges –in fact, in some cases, the pure limitations – that remain. Still, the prescription is for more work, more science, and more explanation in the service of reducing the apparent chaos of the interactions between the people and institutions around us.
Experimental political science has transformed in the last decade. The use of experiments has dramatically increased throughout the discipline, and technological and sociological changes have altered how political scientists use experiments. We chart the transformation of experiments and discuss new challenges that experimentalists face. We then outline how the contributions to this volume will help scholars and practitioners conduct high-quality experiments.
As the use of survey experiments has spread throughout political science, experimental designs have grown increasingly complex. Yet, most survey experiments rest on a basic protocol by which treatments are delivered with textual vignettes and the effects of these interventions are then measured using self-reports of political attitudes or behaviors. We outline several design innovations that allow researchers to move beyond self-reports by directly embedding politically-relevant behaviors into survey experiments. As described in this chapter, these innovations enable experimentalists to strengthen the power of their treatments while enhancing the validity of their measures of treatment effects. We document these advances with illustrations drawn from a wide range of studies focusing on exposure to news reports, party polarization, racial prejudice, and physiological arousal.
What are the effects of foreign aid on the perceived legitimacy of recipient states? Different donors adhere to different rules, principles, and operating procedures. The authors theorize that variation in these aid regimes may generate variation in the effects of aid on state legitimacy. To test their theory, they compare aid from the United States to aid from China, its most prominent geopolitical rival. Their research design combines within-country analysis of original surveys, survey experiments, and behavioral games in Liberia with cross-country analysis of existing administrative and Afrobarometer data from six African countries. They exploit multiple proxies for state legitimacy, but focus in particular on tax compliance and morale. Contrary to expectations, the authors find little evidence to suggest that exposure to aid diminishes the legitimacy of African states. If anything, the opposite appears to be true. Their results are consistent across multiple settings, multiple levels of analysis, and multiple measurement and identification strategies, and are unlikely to be artifacts of sample selection, statistical power, or the strength or weakness of particular experimental treatments. The authors conclude that the effects of aid on state legitimacy at the microlevel are largely benign.
Conjoint experiments are quickly gaining popularity as a vehicle for studying multidimensional political preferences. A common way to explore heterogeneity of preferences estimated with conjoint experiments is by estimating average marginal component effects across subgroups. However, this method does not give the researcher the full access to the variation of preferences in the studied populations, as that would require estimating effects on the individual level. Currently, there is no accepted technique to obtain estimates of individual-level preferences from conjoint experiments. The present paper addresses this gap by proposing a procedure to estimate individual preferences as respondent-specific marginal component effects. The proposed strategy does not require any additional assumptions compared to the standard conjoint analysis, although some changes to the task design are recommended. Methods to account for uncertainty in resulting estimates are also discussed. Using the proposed procedure, I partially replicate a conjoint experiment on immigrant admission with recommended design adjustments. Then, I demonstrate how individual marginal component effects can be used to explore distributions of preferences, intercorrelations between different preference dimensions, and relationships of preferences to other variables of interest.
Experimental political science has changed. In two short decades, it evolved from an emergent method to an accepted method to a primary method. The challenge now is to ensure that experimentalists design sound studies and implement them in ways that illuminate cause and effect. Ethical boundaries must also be respected, results interpreted in a transparent manner, and data and research materials must be shared to ensure others can build on what has been learned. This book explores the application of new designs; the introduction of novel data sources, measurement approaches, and statistical methods; the use of experiments in more substantive domains; and discipline-wide discussions about the robustness, generalizability, and ethics of experiments in political science. By exploring these novel opportunities while also highlighting the concomitant challenges, this volume enables scholars and practitioners to conduct high-quality experiments that will make key contributions to knowledge.
Liberia is both a hard and a crucial case for testing the effects of UN intervention on the rule of law after civil war. This chapter presents a mixed methods research design for evaluating the UN Mission in Liberia's (UNMIL) impact on Liberia both quantitatively and qualitatively. Drawing on original qualitative interviews and extensive quantitative survey data collected over fifteen months of fieldwork in the country, the chapter complements and extends previous assessments of UNMIL's role in Liberia by providing rich, highly granular data on exposure to UNMIL at both the individual and community levels over multiple years and in multiple Liberian counties. By combining surveys with in-depth interviews, the analytical approach described in this chapter substantiates and contextualizes quantitative findings with qualitative insights gleaned from Liberian citizens, local leaders, and government officials, as well as from UNMIL personnel.
Can UN intervention help create the necessary conditions for the rule of law at the local level in countries recovering from civil war? This chapter answers this question through a quantitative and qualitative case study of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The case study combines an original three-wave panel survey with in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with dozens of UN personnel, citizens, local leaders, government officials, and civil society representatives in Liberia. The survey spans a period of four years, covers a wide range of topics, and captures the views of over 10,000 rural Liberians across three waves of data collection. The richness of this data helps isolate the causal impact of UNMIL's activities. The chapter demonstrates that UNMIL increased citizens' willingness to rely on the Liberian police and courts to resolve the most serious incidents of crime and violence, while reducing their use of illegal mechanisms of dispute resolution -- especially trial by ordeal. These effects persist even for at least two years, even in communities that report no further exposure to UNMIL personnel.
How people interpret the intentions of others is fundamental to politics. This article examines intention understanding in the domain of how citizens evaluate wartime conduct. Drawing on recent work in moral psychology, it argues that people are more likely to attribute intentionality to wartime actions that produce morally bad consequences than otherwise identical actions that produce morally good consequences. We test this theory with two vignette-based survey experiments. Our results show that this hypothesis holds in a variety of contexts relating to civilian casualties and the destruction of heritage sites during war. By unlocking the moral psychology of intention understanding, this article contributes to the field of political psychology in general, and more specifically to theoretical debates in International Relations (IR) about public opinion on just war doctrine.