A Blog post on The Unthinking or Confident Extremist?

One thing that I’m interested in is how people with strong political beliefs – so-called extremists – differ from people with more moderate political views. With Anthony Evans and Jarret Crawford, I’ve been fortunate to have a paper accepted for publication at Psychological Science (pre-print). In this post I’m going to briefly note some interesting things about the paper besides the actual findings. First, the abstract and a figure: Continue reading “A Blog post on The Unthinking or Confident Extremist?”

A Blog Post on Morality in Everyday Life

Recently my colleagues and I – lead by Wilhelm Hofmann (University of Cologne), Dan Wisneski (Saint Peter’s University), and Linda Skitka (University of Illinois, Chicago) – published a paper about the everyday experience of morality [pre-print PDF].

This post includes a few useful links and comments on the research. But first, the abstract.

The Abstract: The science of morality has drawn heavily on well-controlled but artificial laboratory settings. To study everyday morality, we repeatedly assessed moral or immoral acts and experiences in a large (N = 1252) sample using ecological momentary assessment. Moral experiences were surprisingly frequent and manifold. Liberals and conservatives emphasized somewhat different moral dimensions. Religious and nonreligious participants did not differ in the likelihood or quality of committed moral and immoral acts. Being the target of moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on happiness, whereas committing moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on sense of purpose. Analyses of daily dynamics revealed evidence for both moral contagion and moral licensing. In sum, morality science may benefit from a closer look at the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of everyday moral experience.

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Sympathy for people in Ferguson

Updated at 2.30pm EST, 15 August 2014 with additional analyses. See bottom of post.

Over the last several days there have been protests in Ferguson, Missouri in response to the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. The Ferguson police have reacted with force to these protests prompting a lot of concern with how the police handled protesters, the media, and the militarization of police departments. This has been – and still is – a tragic and disturbing story.

I added a few questions about this situation at the end of an experiment I just finished collecting on Mturk (N = 341, though varies depending on the analysis). The results of the experiment will wait until another time. Below are the simple and preliminary results of the Ferguson items.

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Race and/or Ideology?

Conservatives are often pegged as more racist than liberals. This claim is consistent with research from a number of disciplines, labs, and methodologies. My academic grandfather, David Sears, popularized the idea of “symbolic racism”, a form of racism that is a melding of traditional (i.e. conservative) American values and negative affect towards Blacks (pdf) (and I’d argue the acceptance of inequality [pdf]). Measures of symbolic racism are related to everything from opposition to policies explicitly likely to benefit Blacks, like affirmative action (pdf), to less explicitly racial policies, like policies regarding the inner-city (pdf) and gun-control (html). People who score high on the symbolic racism scale tend to support the conservative side of many of these issues and also tend to vote for conservative political candidates (pdf).[1]

An important question is why conservatives look more racist than liberals. There are two dominant explanations.[2]
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Forest plots in Excel

A forest plot is an efficient figure for presenting several effect sizes and their confidence intervals (and when used in the context of a meta-analysis, the overall effect size) (.pdf). They can be created in a variety of tools, including R and meta-analytic software. Here I will describe how to create these plots using Excel.* Note: It is very possible (if not likely) that this entire task is easier with R or with other meta-analytic software. The purpose here is to show how this can be done with a tool that many of us are familiar with (if fact, I will assume that you have working knowledge about Excel).
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