ISPS EXPERIMENTS WORKSHOP (Co-Sponsored with the MacMillan-CSAP Quantitative Research Methods Workshop)
Abstract: The psychology of identity is key to understanding the democratic process, yet the affective payoff to descriptive representation remains a “black box” in the voter’s utility function. This is largely because it is difficult to separate the psychological dividends to shared-identity from more instrumental benefits. I employ a self-affirmation treatment in an experimental voting vignette to isolate this psychological payoff. Conducted among black and white Democrats, subjects are faced with a trade-off between voting either along identity or policy lines. An integration of existing theoretical arguments produces the hypothesis that, by providing the boost to self-integrity that might otherwise be gained through in-group voting, self-affirmation should reduce preference for the policy incongruent in-group candidate. Results show this to be true; when the in-group candidate advocates for policies with which the voter disagrees, self- affirmation reduces in-group bias by about 5 percentage points. Treatment-effect heterogeneity along the intersection of racial and gender identity, as well as mechanisms, such as reductions in the extent to which self-worth is tied to one’s group attachments, are explored.
Speaker: Emily West is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Politics at New York University. Her research fits into both the American and Comparative fields, focusing on Political Psychology, Race, Ethnicity and Gender, as well as Experimental Methods. Using experimental, survey and historical data, Emily’s research explores the democratic implications of identity politics in two ways: 1) by focusing on how historical marginalization along racial, ethnic, and gender lines affects the political behavior of individuals from these groups, and 2) by studying the different ways that discrimination manifests in the political process and affects outcomes for constituents.