POLB52 – Lecture 5 – February 7 2012.
Information – Mechanisms of information-effects
Different information presents the same choices and outcomes in different ways (e.g.,
Tversky and Kahneman, 1981)
Information gets people to think about some issues rather than other issues.
E.g., Cohen (1963, 13): The media “...may not be successful much of the time in telling
people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think
E.g., lyengar and Kinder (1987, 63): “By calling attention to some matters while
ignoring others, television news influences the standards by which governments,
presidents, policies, and candidates for public office are judge.”
We wouldn’t know anything if media was gone. Media has mass effect on people’s
beliefs of the world.
o Argument against media affecting us:
1. (Resisted people) People choose their own media and information
about politics influences in the media because they think it’s biased.
2. Less informed people are less interested in politics.
3. To some extent we are influenced by information from our
Where do predispositions come from?
We’re predisposed on how we act to information. We have differences in information
on how we react to that information.
Idea of personality – different types of people seem to remind you of other people you know.
(Ex. Some people avoid conflict.) People made questions to study characteristics. People with
these personality traits align themselves with political parties. Big 5 personality traits model:
Openness to experience – (ex. rich vocabulary, full of ideas, not interested in
abstraction, vs. People who don’t have a good imagination)
o open to adventure and curious vs. Routine and consistency
Conscientiousness – routines, organization, pay attention to detail, use agenda
o self-disciplined and organized vs. Spontaneous and scattered
Extraversion – people who are outgoing in large crowds. They feel comfortable around
people. Vs. Shy/quiet people
Agreeableness – soft heart, friendly vs. Cold
Neuroscience – emotionally unstable vs. Emotionally stable
People, who are agreeable in one item, tend to be agreeing on other things in the same way.
We’re not fundamentally the same but not all fundamentally unique.
Where does this predisposition come from? Where do you get these traits?
Our personality evolves as we socialize and experience different things. In liberal thinking,
everything about us that matters, has to be something that happened to us after we were born
that’s how we shaped our world views. On the contrary, if you look at different kinds of human
behaviour, all these things appeared to have some genetic origin. The way we are is shaped by
things we required prior to birth.
There is some evidence that differences in personality may be attributed to inherited factors.
Biological racism – decline before the holocaust but unacceptable after the holocaust.
In the 1980s, the experiment was not racists anymore. Genetic individuals experiment
promised it was not racist and made a research. It was bad scientific paper. Now the
topic remerged and the evidence not at all together uncompellent. It was not racists.
These personality differences in everyday life do appear an inheritable component to
some degree. Things like our commitment to a political party/religious to some degree
are inheritable. One of the ways in which they study this is with the twin study design.
Identical twins and non-identical were compared. (How strong are your political views?)
If there’s no effect of genes, non-identical twins only share 25% of the same genetic
makeup. Identical twins share 100% genetic makeup. Both the non-identical and the
identical have equal environments. (They both share the same environment.) Identical twins are more similar, than non-identical twins. Therefore then it must be genetics that
effect us. Neat characteristics, identical twins are far more similar than non-deintitical
twins. Non-identical twins are not as likely committed to Mormon (religion). Identical
twins: Your intensity of commitment to that political part is genetic is the same (non-
identical is different). If we’re born in a liberal house hold, we’re a liberal.
Religion – the only thing different in a highly devoted Christian and highly devoted
Jewish, they live in a different environment (not the devoted religion).
Sort of mating – people who are similar in traits are more likely to get married and pass
them on to their children.
Socialization and learning:
“People learn things from their parents and teachers. They are more susceptible to these
influences at earlier stages of life than at later stages. Thus, the things people learn early in life
tend to persist throughout the life-cycle. “
We learn stuff from our parents and teachers and what we learn shapes our predisposition
later on in life. There’s an idea that people progress differently in the life cycle. At certain
stages, we are influenced from the people beside us, but then when we get older, we get less
likely to believe the things people believe us.
There’s a notion of socialization hypothesis (generations, ideas of generation)
differences of people. Old people were just like young people when they were younger.
Young people are more liberal and old people