(Featured image above is from exeterstreethall.org.)
Today we discussed political psychology with Kabir Khanna, doctoral researcher in politics here at Princeton University. Kabir’s specialty is political psychology and public opinion.
We discuss both the polarized partisanship of elected officials, and how that compares to the electorate. More specifically, Kabir explained that though it is clear that politicians have become more extreme on the liberal/conservative spectrum, we don’t quite know if the electorate as a whole has done the same – this is much harder to divine. Kabir discussed some methods of surveying the population to get a better handle on the truth of the situation. In fact, “the truth” and how to get there was much of our musings on today’s show.
This of course led us to discuss surveys, polls, and statistics. In particular, we discuss the details of some of Kabir’s work – which was featured in The New York Times’, The Upshot earlier this year. The work focused on how our opinion of the current state of the economy is affected by our politics, and how that affects our statement of factual pieces of information.
- group 1 was just given the quiz,
- group 2 was given the same quiz and told they’d get a dollar for every question they answered accurately, and
- group 3 again received the same quiz, but instead of getting a dollar for correct answers they were directly encouraged to be as accurate as possible.
The study found that “…[w]hen survey respondents were offered a small cash reward — a dollar or two — for producing a correct answer about the unemployment rate and other economic conditions, they were more likely to be accurate and less likely to produce an answer that fit their partisan biases.” (From the Upshot article, a very nice summary of this study and a complementary one by a group at Yale University.)
Towards the end of the show we play music by Kabir Khanna’s band, Gulps – a local New Brunswick punk band that Kabir drums for – and discuss their music a bit. (Check out their Facebook page for upcoming shows and news!)
We also mentioned a past show with chemist-and-crystal-maker, Quinn Gibson.