These questions aside, the core of our paper is the exposition of a model of expressive survey response and the implementation of a pair of experiments designed to distinguish that cheerleading behavior from sincere partisan divergence. We find that small financial inducements for correct responses can substantially reduce partisan divergence, and that these reductions are even larger when inducements are also provided for “don’t know” answers. In light of these results, survey responses that indicate partisan polarization with respect to factual matters should not be taken at face value. Researchers and general analysts of public opinion should consider the possibility that the appearance of polarization is to a great extent an artifact of survey measurement rather than evidence of real differences in beliefs.
From January 2009, when President Obama first took office, to February 2012, how had the unemployment rate in the country changed?
From January 2001, when President Bush first took office, to January 2009, when President Bush left office, how had the unemployment rate in the country changed?
agentofselection: Alternate explanation: We really believe the "lies", but when cash is on the line we go with the answer we think is most likely to be scored as correct, all the while believing that the "correct" answer is a distortion by media or data-gathering sources friendly to the opposite party. Under that explanation, people will break with their beliefs and lie when cash is on the line, rather than tell the truth for cash. I dunno about you, but hearing that people will be immoral for cash tends to better fit my preconceived notions of the world. And the explanation that fits my preconceived notions is, of course, the correct one.
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