Ann N. Crigler and Parker R. Hevron
Whether political observers and participants applaud or decry the presence of emotions in political decision-making, scholars have begun to view the relationship between affect and reason as a key component of decision-making. This chapter provides an overview of the research on affect and political choice. The authors argue that emotions undergird acts of political choice, not simply as additional variables to explain preferences or actions but also as integral to the processing of information and decision-making. They briefly define affect, emotion and mood and outline some of the methodologies commonly used to measure each of the four emotion functions that are central to political communication and choice. These four functions of emotion – expressive, perceptual/attentional, appraisal, and behavioral – are discussed in relation to political decision-making.
Public opinion’s role in shaping governmental actions is a central concern of democracy, yet the absence of systematic state-level survey data has inhibited analyses of public opinion at the subnational level. This essay traces the evolution of studies of public opinion at that level, first reviewing studies using surrogates derived from demographic variables. It next considers methodologies that develop state-level opinion from aggregated national samples. Finally, it discusses recent efforts to develop state-level opinion measures using post-sample stratification integrating limited survey data with demographic variables. There is evidence of significant cross-sectional and temporal variation in public opinion and policy across and within the states. Research on subnational public opinion once hinged on assumptions about opinion surrogates, but is now based on abundant and progressively rigorous opinion data. These studies reveal that public opinion plays an enormous role in subnational politics, with effects varying across issues, contexts, and conditions.
This chapter reviews the state of the art in at-a-distance analysis. This methodology originated in attempts by psychologists and students of policy-making and international relations to understand and predict a national or government’s policy choices by studying the verbal behaviour of key government leaders. It has since widened into an array of methods that have also found use in areas such as candidate assessment. Several key methods are presented, as are some of the key critiques and rebuttals around the issue of inferring personality characteristics from speeches and then using those to explain government policies and state behaviours. The chapter ends by critically assessing the state of the art in the field and by presenting some possible and needed advances.
This chapter reviews the historical development of the genre of biography in relation to the social sciences, and discusses the debates about its utility in the study of leadership. Taking key examples, it explores the contrast between the ‘common-sense, humane tradition’ said to be the bedrock of biography, and more theoretically informed approaches (especially leadership typologies, psychobiographies, and the ‘interpretive turn’) in the ways that questions of leadership are addressed. Developments in biographical methodology are a core concern. Biography, it is argued, need not be driven by an ‘individual journey’ but can be oriented to questions germane to political enquiry, especially questions of leader efficacy, achievement, or dysfunction.
Matthew Cawvey, Matthew Hayes, Damarys Canache, and Jeffery J. Mondak
Levels of interpersonal and political trust undoubtedly ebb and flow in response to external stimuli. Despite the variability in one’s environment, there is good reason to believe that interpersonal and political trust also originate from individual characteristics. In this chapter, we focus on the impact of biology and personality on trust. Biological factors and personality traits constitute relatively stable individual differences that influence perceptions, evaluations, and orientations toward the social and political world. Research on trust has examined both of these influences, and we review this literature below. The first section considers the role of biology in shaping trust, and the second examines trust as a dimension of personality and as an individual orientation that can be shaped by personality. We then present a brief statistical analysis of the impact of personality traits on interpersonal and political trust. The last section summarizes the discussion and suggests avenues for future research.
David Brulé, Alex Mintz, and Karl DeRouen
This chapter focuses on the decision-making models and biases used to explain the decisions of political leaders with a particular emphasis on foreign-policy decisions. We summarize some of the key debates and criticisms of the various approaches. Various models and theories are considered: rational choice theory, bounded rationality/cybernetic, organizational process model, bureaucratic politics model, prospect theory, and poliheuristic theory. Several biases are discussed: personality and beliefs, groupthink, polythink, and summary approaches. We conclude with a detailed discussion of the rational–cognitive debate as well as some thoughts for future progress in decision-making analysis.
Andrew Flanagin and Miriam J. Metzger
The rich research heritage on source credibility is fundamentally linked to processes of political communication and the provision of political information. Networked digital technologies, however, have recently complicated the assessment of source credibility by modifying people’s ability to determine source expertise and trustworthiness, which are the foundations upon which credibility evaluations have traditionally rested. This chapter explores source credibility in online contexts by examining the credibility of digital versus traditional channels, the nature of political information conveyed by social media, and the dynamics of political information online. In addition, this chapter considers related research concerns, including the link between credibility and selective exposure, the potential for group polarization, and the role of social media in seeking and delivering credible political information. These concerns suggest challenges and opportunities as information consumers navigate the contemporary information environment in search of the knowledge to make them informed members of a politically engaged citizenry.
Michael S. Lewis-Beck and Charles Tien
This article offers a new way to evaluate the pros and cons of predicting US presidential elections: the long view versus the short view. Election forecasters who take the long view stress electoral theory and lead time, examining model performance over several contests. For this view, an overarching goal remains knowledge of how the electoral process works. In contrast, forecasters who take the short view stress accuracy exclusively. Forecasts are made repeatedly, especially near the election. The short view depends increasingly on polls until nothing else matters. The short view also risks setting back the study of elections, for example, fostering the idea of an unstable, even volatile electorate, even though American voters have shown great stability. Finally, the short view forgets the lesson that most variation in national election outcomes can be predicted, even explained, by established rules of political behavior.
Eeva Luhtakallio and Nina Eliasoph
The ethnographic approach has particular potential for studying political communication through enlarging understandings of political institutions and expanding definitions of “politics.” First, widening institutional understanding takes advantage of ethnography’s capacity to open windows that traditional analysis of political institutions leaves shut. Second, ethnography is uniquely able to examine new forms of engagement that people have not yet defined as “politics.” Third, studying political communication ethnographically means expanding the modes of communication and activity examined to include nonverbal and virtual communication. Politics is one of the principal arenas in which “culture” unfolds and becomes observable, yet in ways that are not limited to political institutions or decision-making practices. Common to political ethnographies is the capability to show how “how” and “why” are linked: how a political process or practice takes place enables finding out why it does.
Anthony M. Salvanto
This chapter considers exit polls from a researcher’s perspective, pointing out how it compares in terms of operation and sampling to more conventional pre-election polling and speculating about what future exit polling in the United States might look like. The chapter discusses the practical steps taken today to conduct post-election exit polling in the United States. Taken as a research study in itself, it discusses how exit polling might adapt over time in the context of the explosion in new data sources, lists, and new technologies, and—importantly—accounting for changes in the way Americans go to the polls, which is increasingly not on Election Day at all, but in the days or weeks to it or by mail or absentee ballot.