Open Science refers to a broad, transdisciplinary movement aiming to open up research processes to promote the integrity, reproducibility and value of scholarly work, in part as a response to pressing problems facing science. This movement thoroughly changed the field of psychology, and clearly a similar fundamental rearrangement is coming in all social sciences, for example political science, sociology, and communication.
With Nate Breznau and Eike Rinke, I have the pleasure of organizing a meta-scientific conference, which discusses, advances and pushes for Open Science in research on politics and society.
Stream 1: Advancing Open Science: Problems in and solutions for research on politics and society
Stream 2: Doing Open Science: Applications in research on politics on society
Stream 3: Debating Open Science: Perspectives on the State of Social Science
Crowdsourced replication effort
BITSS Workshop on reproducible research
Key note speakers
Jeremy Freese (Stanford University)
Thomas König (APSR, University of Mannheim)
Arthur Lupia (OSF, University of Michigan)
Julia Rohrer (100% CI, Uni Leipzig)
How to participate
In June, we will distribute the CfP and information on the crowdsourced replication effort and the pre-registration challenge.
The state election in Lower Saxony in October 2017 walked in the shadows of the preceding election on the federal level. In light of both campaigns’ temporal proximity, this study investigates the development of political attitudes towards the federal and the state level and their relative influence on voter behavior in Lower Saxony. We make use of a multi-wave panel survey of 1,346 eligible voters in Lower Saxony, which was carried out in the framework of the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES). Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses show that a significant minority of respondents based their voting decision in the state election on state-specific considerations. State-specific attitudes varied strongly and to a large extent independently of attitudes towards parties and politicians at the federal level and went hand in hand with changes in voting intentions. The Lower Saxony SPD, in particular, was able to promote the popularity of its leading candidate, thereby leaving behind the CDU at the ballot boxes. [ZParl, vol. 49 (2018), no. 1, pp. 22 – 39]
Ein Umschwung in den letzten Wochen des Landtagswahlkampfes: Befunde einer mehrwelligen Wiederholungsbefragung zur niedersächsischen Landtagswahl 2017
Die niedersächsische Landtagswahl im Oktober 2017 fand im Schatten der vorhergehenden Bundestagswahl statt. Vor dem Hintergrund der zeitlichen Nähe beider Wahlgänge untersucht dieser Aufsatz die Entwicklung bundes- und landesbezogener Einstellungen im Wahlkampfverlauf sowie deren Einfluss auf das Wählerverhalten in Niedersachsen. Eine mehrwellige Wiederholungsbefragung von 1.346 niedersächsischen Wahlberechtigten, die im Rahmen der German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) durchgeführt wurde, dient als Grundlage der Untersuchung. In quer- und längsschnittlichen Analysen wird gezeigt, dass eine bedeutende Minderheit der Befragten den Wahlentscheidungen auf der Landesebene ebenenspezifische Erwägungen zu Grunde legt. Landesbezogene Einstellungen waren einer von der Bundesebene weitgehend unabhängigen Wahlkampfdynamik unterworfen, die die Wahlabsichten des Elektorats beeinflusst zu haben scheinen. So konnte gerade die niedersächsische SPD die Popularität ihres Spitzenkandidaten in den letzten Wahlkampfwochen steigern und dadurch die CDU in einem Schlussspurt als stärkste Kraft ablösen. [ZParl, 49. Jg. (2018), H. 1, S. 22 – 39]
The 2017 German elections (and its aftermath) were extraordinary. At the campaign’s outset, the SPD experienced the strongest surge in public approval ever observed in German polling but months later attitudes had shifted again and the party ended up with its lowest election result in decades. The decline of Germany’s oldest democratic party was accompanied by the re-entry of the Free Democrats into German parliament and the rise of a populist right-wing party propagating stances on immigration and German history that for long were treated as „taboo“ in public discourse. Finally, the elections brought a new parliament but, for the first time in German history, no government.
With the publication of the 2017 GLES campaign panel you now have data to investigate these elections that might once mark a historic transition in German politics.
harmonized with all other GLES components (face 2 face survey, media analysis, RCS etc.)
A few weeks after the federal election in Germany, the citizens of Lower Saxony had the chance to vote again in a provincial snap election. Shortly after the provincial snap elections were called, we included an extensive survey battery on attitudes towards politicians and parties in Lower Saxony to assess how the parallel campaigns on the federal and on the provincial levels impact level-specific attitudes (survey wave 5ff.). These survey measure are included in the published data file. We conducted an additional post-election survey wave, exclusively for respondent from Lower Saxony. This wave will be added soon.
After a decision has been made about whether our country will either have a government again or will face new elections, we will conduct another survey wave (wave 9), which then will be added to the data set.
English translations will follow.
More information on survey measures (which instrument in which waves etc.) will follow.
Many studies use the same factors to explain attitudes toward specific trade agreements and attitudes toward the principle of free trade and thus treat both objects as interchangeable. Contemporary trade agreements, however, often reach beyond trade in the narrow sense. Consequently, factors unrelated to free trade may affect citizens’ evaluations of these agreements. We propose a model of attitude formation toward specific trade agreements that includes the societal context as a constitutive feature. We expect salient aspects of an agreement to activate corresponding predispositions. Empirically, we compare how this contextual model and a standard model perform in explaining German citizens’ attitudes toward free trade and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The results show that the standard model performs well in explaining public opinion on the principle of free trade but is less useful in explaining attitudes toward TTIP. The latter were driven by postures toward transatlantic cooperation, predispositions toward the role of interest groups in politics, and market regulation – aspects salient in German public discourse about TTIP. In sum, we find ample evidence for the need to differentiate between the two attitude objects and for our contextual model of attitude formation.
Die Hauptbefunde der kürzlich veröffentlichte Studie (Party Politics, mit Andreas Jungherr und Harald Schoen) zur Wirkung innerparteilicher Partizipation haben wir kompakt und (hoffentlich) verständlich beim Wissenschaftsblog DeFacto zusammengefasst.
Unsere Untersuchung zeigt, dass die Konsequenzen eines innerparteilichen Referendums über den Entscheid in der Sachfrage hinausreichen :
Ein Mitgliedervotum verändert, wie Mitglieder auf ihre Partei blicken. Wer über Sachfragen abstimmen darf, fühlt sich als Parteimitglied ermächtigt. Mitglieder lernen im Diskussionsprozess über das Verhalten der Parteispitzen und bewerten sie stärker auf Grund ihrer eigenen inhaltlichen Überzeugungen.
Weitere Informationen sind auf einer studienbegleitenden Webseite zu finden. Kommentare sind willkommen!
After the country’s reunification German political parties have lost half of their members. Parties respond by expanding intra-party participation. Their goal is to revitalize party organizations and to motivate more citizens to join.
Using original data, we investigate the consequences of an intraparty referendum in a state branch of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union on beliefs and attitudes of party members. We use longitudinal survey data bracketing a nonbinding issue referendum on the party’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Our analysis shows that the referendum had secondary effects that went beyond the referendum’s primary goal of delivering an informal opinion poll to the party leadership. The experience of having a say in an important policy decision fostered members’ sense of party-specific efficacy. The increases were higher among members who did not perceive themselves as efficacious before. Efficacy increased independent of a member’s voting behavior.
Secondly, the referendum provided party members with information on elite positions and stimulated leadership evaluation based on issue congruency. As a result. members use issue-positions as yardstick to evaluate party leaders, if party elites took a stance on same-sex marriage.
Altogether, involvement in intraparty decision-making promotes beliefs and behaviors among the rank and file that are relevant to uphold a vivid and empowering party life.
In the ongoing discussions about expanding intra-party democracy (such as the one we are witnessing in Germany’s Social Democratic Party at the moment), we believe that party members and party leaders can learn from our study about likely effects of opportunities for member participation. Against the backdrop of the study’s relevance to inform these debates, SAGE graciously decided to make the study public for a couple of months.
The study can be obtained here. We also make available the survey data of our two-wave panel study of party members and the syntaxes of our analyses.
I eat a lot. Therefore I need to spend a lot of time in the gym. Turns out it is a good place to learn about science and to improve your research skills. Take New Books in Political Science, for example. Books have many pages and need much time to read. Why not letting the author herself explain to you in 15 minutes what the book is about while you are grocery shopping?
Being serious, podcast obviously cannot substitute reading a book or an article in its entirety. But just like skimming an abstract, it provides an overview of what is out there and provides you with the information to decide on whether you want to dig deeper.
There are many excellent science-related podcast out there. Some of them are about researching itself, some about specific subfields. Here’s my selection:
The podcast features short interviews about recently published books with political scientists from all subfields of the disciplines. New Books in Political Science is part of the New-Books-Network which also has fascinating podcasts on psychology, philosophy, history…
Today, I read on Christiane Grünloh’s blog about You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. I haven’t listened to it myself yet, but it appears to be a promising podcast on persuasion and social psychology in general.
Two crazy guys talk about the newest gossip and developments in the academic twittersphere. A good example of how we can learn across disciplines because one is a psychologist and the other a Bio…something. One big topic: Methods and promoting open science and research transparency.
This is not my field and I have no idea how historians judge the scientific accuracy of Dan Carlin’s explanation of why the world came about the way it is. In any case, he can make you feel like you are reliving historic moments.
Using insights from economics, this podcast explains at depth every-day-phenomena.
This is not enough? Here’s an even longer lister of science podcasts.
I am grateful for further suggestions on good podcasts in the comments!
Bringing workout-out-and-work efficiency to the next level: The treadmill desk
It turns out, avoiding to waste my time in the gym by using the countless on the treadmill to listen to science podcast was just „efficiency for beginners“. As I just learned, Uri Simonsohn, an open science guy I deeply respect and who played a significant role in making psychology’s renaissance possible, avoids the gym altogether and simply placed the treadmill under his desk. Yes, he writes his papers and syntaxes while walking on the treadmill. Here, he describes at greater length his treadmill desk installation. Apparently, Amazon offers dozens of these treadmill desks…
Polls are ubiquitous. Here in Germany, these are the final days of the run-up to the federal elections and each and every day we wake up to a new poll. There are so many of them by now that it is hard to keep track even if you wanted to. Platforms like zweitstimme.org and signal&rauschen aggregate these polls and extract the signal in the noise.
Polls do convey valuable information for voters. They inform us us about the voting intentions of fellow citizens, enabling us to vote strategically depending on the presumed vote shares of single parties (parliamentary threshold) or party coalitions (parliamentary majority).
However, polls are unloved. They resemble the trend towards horse-race journalism which treats elections merely as a sportive competition and not as a struggle of ideas or as the honorable emblem of liberal and self-governing societies. A different line of criticism argues that polls not only measure but also influence voting intentions. In the research section you find an old paper draft [German] on this topic with a methodological discussion on investigating it with RCS-survey data. Moreover, yesterday I talked with German radio station WDR2 about this topic [German].
Acting as a scholar in the public sphere and speaking out on political issues is a complicated matter; particularly as a political scientist. Taking a public stance on political issues may endanger your credibility as a neutral scholar (the great documentation on the scholar and radical Israel-critic Norman Finkelstein gives insights into this tension). However, in times like these, remaining in the academic armchair is even harder to justify. This is not the place to elaborate in greater detail, but in my view of the current state of political affairs, we do not live in ordinary times. Consolidated liberal democracies face unprecedented challenges, and some of these challenges come from within our own societies.
In the past months I have witnessed on twitter that some of those scholars that I know and respect for their methodological or theoretical contributions to my academic subfield (such as Charles Taber, Brendan Nyhan, Thomas Leeper) took public and unequivocal stances on political issues; particularly on the erosion of liberal norms under US-President Trump. Personally, I found that very encouraging. Donald Trump epitomizes the normalization of lying as an ordinary tool of political communication. In the past months, many journalists declared the beginning of the post-truth-era. Yet, to function democratic political discourse requires a common basis of mutually accepted facts. For these (and other) reasons, public disregard and disdain for the inquire for truth is worrisome.
In the past months I have been working with old and new friends on a project that stands up to the normalization of lying and tries to maintain the quality of the political discourse in my home country, Germany. Following the example of 113 fact checking projects in 50 countries, we launched an independent non-profit fact-checking platform for Germany: stimmtdas.org (German for: isthistrue.org).
stimmtdas.org is a non-profit project run by volunteers. Journalists, scientists, creative people joined forces to hold politicians to account in the run-up to the German federal elections 2017 (and beyond). We check public statements of German politicians and verify their veracity. By calling out false statements and by confirming those that are true, we hope contribute to the quality of public discourse in Germany.
Fact-checking from a scholarly perspective
As a scholar, I am well aware of the mixed evidence on the effectiveness of fact-checking. Several experimental studies show that fact checking effectively reduces misperceptions while other studies report that exposure to fact-checks improves knowledge but does not have subsequent effects on attitudes. Yet, most prominently (and depressingly), Brendan Nyhan and others have shown that fact-checking might even elicit back-fire effects (Study, Podcast). Ironically, just like me, early in his career Brendan Nyhan himself ran a fact-checking website before he has gotten into academic political psychology, only to demonstrate the dubious effects of fact-checking. Recently, however, he walked back on the backfire-effect (or the boomerang effect) in view of more convincing evidence for the effectiveness of belief corrections. Apparently, fact-checking works but it may backfire under some circumstances which we have not yet entirely understood .
[The backfire effect is closely related to the well-known scholarly concept of motivated reasoning (or: dissonance reduction, confirmation bias and so on). Recently on twitter, I saw conversations about a potential publication bias on motivated reasoning and people asking for unpublished studies on motivated reasoning. I chipped in our field-experimental experience on political persuasion. Our large-N study could be regarded as a most-likely case for motivated reasoning but fails to find any moderating effects of pre-treatment attitudes on attitude change. Because motivating reasoning and boomerang effects are sexier than mere persuasion change it is a plausible speculation that 1) there are a lot of unpublished studies with uniform attitude change in academic file drawers and 2) the strength of motivated reasoning is either smaller then previously though or more dependent on unknown individual or contextual contingencies. However, just speculating…]
Checking false and true political statements: stimmtdas.org
So, while there is still a lot left to understand about how fact-checking works from a scholarly perspective, we put fact-checking into practice. And the response is overwhelming. More than 20,000 visits in the first couple of days and reports in several news outlets about our small project. Among those is a long story in Germany large newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. If you have any feedback, let us know and, please, share the news.
This chapter investigates the amount of variability in individual turnout decisions over time and its dependence on the changing characteristics of political parties as one feature of the political context. Electoral participation in the German federal elections from 1994 to 2013 was characterized by inertia for most eligible voters. However, one reason for dynamics in turnout behavior is changes in individual alienation with regard to the political parties. When voters develop a more favorable view of the political parties than in the previous election in terms of the parties’ generalized evaluation or perceived competence, then they are motivated to switch from abstention to voting (and vice versa). But the political parties’ capacity to raise turnout rates is rather narrow compared to the influence of other determinants, such as the perceived duty to vote. decisions.
The study will be published this fall by Oxford University Press as a chapter in a book on ‚Voters and Voting in Context‘ (eds. Schoen, Harald; Roßteutscher, Sigrid; Schmitt-Beck, Rüdiger; Weßels, Bernhard; Wolf, Christof). Here you can find a Pre-Print, Online-Appendixand Stata Replication Files.
Wuttke, Alexander (2017). „When the world around you is changing: Investigating the Influence of Alienation and Indifference on Voter Turnout“, in: Schoen, Harald; Roßteutscher, Sigrid; Schmitt-Beck, Rüdiger; Weßels, Bernhard; Wolf, Christof (eds.): „Voters and Voting in Context“, Oxford University Press, pp. pp. 146–166.