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Stapel and Schwarz: The Republican who did not want to become president

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Stapel and Schwarz. 1998. The Republican who did not want to become president. PSPB 24 (7).

Overview

Colin Powell, who was immmensely popular among both Democrats and Republicans at the time, made two simultaneous decisions in 1996: Not to run in the Republican primary, and to join the Republican party. The public could view this one of two ways: Powell distanced himself from the party, or he attached himself to it. Depending on how they view it, their evaluations of the party might go up or down. These evaluations may also influence their evaluations of Bob Dole.

Implication: The media and spin could determine which way we think about Powell's decision, and therefore influence our evaluations of Republicans and of Dole.

Model

An include/exclude model.

  • "Include": Powell joined the party.
  • "Exclude": Powell rejected pleas to run for the nomination.

Predictions

  • Powell's decisions can be included in people's perceptions of the superordinate category, Republicans
  • Powell's decisions cannot be included in people's perceptions of a lateral category, Dole, but they can have assimilation or contrast effects.
  • These effects depend on whether you ask about Republicans, then Dole, or about Dole, then Republicans.

Design

A survey design using six groups of college kids. Factor one: Powell's decision (three groups). Factor two: question order (two groups).

  1. Prime survey respondents by telling them only one half of Powell's decision (or, for control, neither half)
  2. Ask what they think about Republicans (or, in the other group, Dole)
  3. Ask what they think about Dole (or, in the other group, Republicans)

Specific Hypotheses

  • See Table 1 (p 693).
  1. Knowing Powell joined will boost evalutions of Republicans; knowing he refuses to run will hurt them.
  2. Contrasting Powell as a Republican with Dole hurts Dole (no matter which half of Powell's decision you give)
  3. With Powell's "inclusion" decision, the effects on Republicans (positive) and on Dole (negative) cancel out in the end.
  4. With Powell's "exclusion" decision, the effects on Republicans (negative) and Dole (negative) reinforce one another.