Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Motivated Reasoning, Political Sophistication, and Associations between President Obama and Islam

  • Todd K. Hartman (a1) and Adam J. Newmark (a1)
Abstract

Recent polls reveal that between 20% and 25% of Americans erroneously indicate that President Obama is a Muslim. In this article, we compare individuals' explicit responses on a survey about religion and politics with reaction time data from an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to investigate whether individuals truly associate Obama with Islam or are motivated reasoners who simply express negativity about the president when given the opportunity. Our results suggest that predispositions such as ideology, partisanship, and race affect how citizens feel about Obama, which in turn motivates them to accept misinformation about the president. We also find that these implicit associations increase the probability of stating that Obama is likely a Muslim. Interestingly, political sophistication does not appear to inoculate citizens from exposure to misinformation, as they exhibit the same IAT effect as less knowledgeable individuals.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Bargh, John A., and Chartrand, Tanya L.. 1999. “The Unbearable Automaticity of Being.” American Psychologist 54: 462–79.
Cohen, Jacob. 1988. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, 2nd ed.Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Collins, Allan M., and Loftus, Elizabeth F.. 1975. “A Spreading-Activation Theory of Semantic Processing.” Psychological Review 82: 407–28.
Council on American-Islamic Relations. 2010. “The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States.” http://www.cair.com/pdf/2006-CAIR-Civil-Rights-Report.pdf (accessed December 23, 2010).
Delli Carpini, Michael X., and Keeter, Scott. 1996. What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Devine, Patricia G. 1989. “Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled Components.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 56: 518.
Ditto, Peter H., and Lopez, David F.. 1992. “Motivated Skepticism: Use of Differential Decision Criteria for Preferred and Nonpreferred Conclusions.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 63: 568–84.
Fazio, Russell H. 1995. “Attitudes as Object-Evaluation Associations: Determinants, Consequences, and Correlates of Attitude Accessibility.” In Attitude Strength: Antecedents and Consequences, ed. Petty, Richard E. and Krosnick, Jon A., 247–82. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Greenwald, Anthony G., and Banaji, Mahzarin R.. 1995. “Implicit Social Cognition: Attitudes, Self-Esteem, and Stereotypes.” Psychological Review 102: 427.
Greenwald, Anthony G., McGhee, Debbie E., and Schwartz, Jordan L. K.. 1998. “Measuring Individual Differences in Implicit Cognition: The Implicit Association Test.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74: 1464–80.
Greenwald, Anthony G., Nosek, Brian A., and Banaji, Mahzarin R.. 2003. “Understanding and Using the Implicit Association Test: I. An improved Scoring Algorithm.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85: 197216.
Greenwald, A. G., Nosek, B. A., and Sriram, N.. 2006. “Consequential Validity of the Implicit Association Test: Comment on the Article by Blanton and Jaccard.” American Psychologist 61: 5661.
Hollander, Barry A. 2010. “Persistence in the Perception of Barack Obama as a Muslim in the 2008 Presidential Campaign.” Journal of Media and Religion 9: 5566.
Jackson, Liz. 2010. “Images of Islam in U.S. Media and Their Educational Implications.” Educational Studies 46: 324.
Kunda, Ziva. 1990. “The Case for Motivated Reasoning.” Psychological Bulletin 108: 480–98.
Lane, Kristin A., Banaji, Mahzarin R., Nosek, Brian A., and Greenwald, Anthony G.. 2007. “Understanding and Using the Implicit Association Test: IV: Procedures and Validity.” In Implicit Measures of Attitudes: Procedures and Controversies, ed. Wittenbrink, Bernd and Schwarz, Norbert, 59102. New York: Guilford.
Lodge, Milton, and Taber, Charles S.. 2000. “Three Steps toward a Theory of Motivated Political Reasoning.” In Elements of Reason: Cognition, Choice, and the Bounds of Rationality, ed. Lupia, Arthur, McCubbins, Mathew D., and Popkin, Samuel L., 183213. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Luskin, Robert C. 1990. “Explaining Political Sophistication.” Political Behavior 12: 331–61.
MacKuen, Michael B., Erikson, Robert S., and Stimson, James A.. 1992. “Peasants or Bankers? The American Electorate and the U.S. Economy.” American Political Science Review 86: 598611.
Meade, Adam W. 2009. FreeIAT: “An Open-Source Program to Administer the Implicit Association Test.” Applied Psychological Measurement 33: 643.
Popkin, Samuel L. 1991. The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sears, David O. 1986. “College Sophomores in the Laboratory: Influences of a Narrow Data Base on Social Psychology's View of Human Nature.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51: 515–30.
Sheets, Penelope, Domke, David S., and Greenwald, Anthony G.. 2011. “God and Country: The Partisan Psychology of the Presidency, Religion, and Nation.” Political Psychology 32: 459–84.
Taber, Charles S., and Lodge, Milton. 2006. “Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs.” American Journal of Political Science 50: 755–69.
Westen, Drew, Blagov, Pavel S., Harenski, Keith, Kilts, Clint, and Hamann, Stephan. 2006. “Neural Bases of Motivated Reasoning: An fMRI Study of Emotional Constraints on Partisan Political Judgment in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 18: 1947–58.
Zaller, John. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 149 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 558 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.