Political Science

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Chapter 2 The Empirical Approach to Political Science

In chapter 2 of the textbook, we describe the scientific method and argue that it underlies empirical political science research. We note that empiricism is not the only method of obtaining knowledge—there are others that lots of people fervently adhere to—and a case can be made against trying to study politics scientifically. (There are even disagreements about the definition and nature of the scientific method.) Nevertheless, this way of acquiring knowledge is so common that many social scientists take it for granted, as do many average citizens. The problem is that scientific claims are sometimes difficult to distinguish from other kinds of statements. Nor is it always clear whether and how empirical analysis can be applied to propositions stated in theoretical and practical terms. The following questions, problems, and assignments therefore offer opportunities for you to think about the application of the empirical approach. Note that not all of the questions have one “right” answer. Many, in fact, require a lot of careful thought. And it is often necessary to redefine or clarify words or phrases, to look for hidden assumptions, and to consider whether or not statements can be “translated” into scientific terms.

Exercise 2–1. Make a list of the characteristics of scientific knowledge. The list may help organize your thinking for other questions in this chapter.

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Exercise 2–2. The chapter mentions several characteristics of scientific knowledge. It also warns about confusing commonsense and casual observations with verified or potentially verifiable claims. In this exercise you will try to identify and differentiate between normative statements, which are statements that suggest how things should be, and empirical statements, which are statements that can be measured, tested, or verified through observation. For each of the following statements, decide if the statement is normative, empirical, a combination of the two, or if there is not enough information in the statement for you to decide. Write your responses in the space provided after each statement and briefly explain why you think your answer is correct.

a. The Republicans won a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate in the 2014 midterm elections.

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b. Offshore drilling should be banned in Alaska because it is immoral to risk damaging an otherwise pristine natural environment.

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c. Early voting periods should be shortened because they disproportionately favor Democratic candidates for office.

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d. Multiparty systems are better for representation than two-party systems.

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e. More people voted in the most recent election than in the previous election.

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f. Senior citizens are more likely to vote than college students.

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g. Scotland would be better off today if it had voted for independence in 2014.

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h. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right of all people.

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i. Democratic leaders always have better ideas on social policy than Republican leaders.

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j. Decriminalizing marijuana distribution and regulating sales can create a substantial source of tax revenue.1

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k. Too many people have been unable to find work.

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l. It doesn’t make any sense to vote because so many ballots are cast in an election that no single vote is going to make a difference in the outcome.

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Exercise 2–3. Below are several paragraphs drawn from an article in which the author discusses a debate over how congressional districts are drawn:

I argue that map makers ought to “pack” districts with as many like-minded partisans as possible. Trying to draw “competitive districts” effectively cracks ideologically congruent votes into separate districts, which has the effect of increasing the absolute number of voters who will be unhappy with the outcome and dissatisfied with their representative.

One common objection to this method of districting [packing] is that it would add to the polarization in Congress by creating overwhelmingly Republican (Democratic) districts that are more likely to elect very conservative (liberal) members.

Some states, like Arizona, have passed laws or referenda specifying that a districting plan ought to maximize the number of competitive districts. This is not particularly surprising because the common wisdom among most voters and certainly among the media is that the House of Representatives does not have enough competitive districts currently, and that an increase in the number of competitive elections or in the amount of turnover in Congress will somehow enhance representation.

From: Thomas L. Brunell, “Rethinking Redistricting: How Drawing Uncompetitive Districts Eliminates Gerrymanders, Enhances Representation, and Improves Attitudes toward Congress,” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (January 2006): 77–85.

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a. Identify two normative statements or claims from the preceding text that can’t be tested empirically as currently expressed.

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b. Write down three statements or claims in the preceding text that are empirical and can be tested.

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Exercise 2–4. Many people make the following claim: “You can’t predict human behavior.” In light of our discussion of the scientific approach to political science, do you find this claim to be valid? (Hint: Try breaking human behavior down into more specific traits or properties. For example, consider if people are naturally aggressive. Then think of ways that this might be empirically investigated.)

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Exercise 2–5. Chapter 2 of the textbook highlights criticisms of the empirical study of political science. List the criticisms here.

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Which of the criticisms do you find most compelling and why?

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Helpful Hints

Decoding the Ambiguity of Political Discourse As we stated earlier, political discourse is frequently ambiguous, and you have to think carefully about what words really say. Sometimes a politician’s meaning is clear. Consider President Obama’s Rose Garden speech on a proposed nuclear deal with Iran.2 In his speech, President Obama said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades,” which was a straightforward factual statement that could be verified empirically. But he also claimed, “I made clear that we were prepared to resolve this issue diplomatically, but only if Iran came to the table in a serious way.” The word serious makes this statement a judgment, not a factual proposition. Whether something is serious or not is an opinion. In some people’s minds, Iran had been making serious attempts at diplomacy, but others thought differently. Who was right? It is hard to see how the proposition could be scientifically proven true or false.

2 “Statement by the President on the Framework to Prevent Iran from Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon,” April 2, 2015, www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/02/statement-president-framework-prevent-iran-obtaining-nuclear-weapon.

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Exercise 2–6. Chapter 2 in the textbook focuses on empirical research and using the scientific method. Empiricism is defined as “relying on observation to verify propositions.” In this exercise you will want to consider how you might make observations to verify propositions. For each of the following empirical statements, indicate where you might look or how you might make observations to find information to verify the statement. In the example below, you will see that while you only need to provide one answer, there are many potential verification methods.

Example: A majority of voters oppose the use of the death penalty.

Answer: “I would search for survey results on national news organization Web sites,” or “I would randomly sample students at my university and ask if they support the death penalty,” or “I would call an interest group that focuses on the death penalty and ask about support for the death penalty among voters.”

a. More voters are registered with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party in Pennsylvania.

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b. The British Parliament currently has more than twelve parties represented by members.

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c. Someone working forty hours a week and earning the minimum wage will still be below the federal poverty level for a family of two.

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d. People are not willing to pay higher taxes to address climate change.

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e. Texas has the most stringent voter identification law in the United States.

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f. Ninety percent of deaths attributed to diarrheal diseases like cholera are children five years of age or younger.

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Exercise 2–7. In order to think about the scientific components of empirical research, it is useful to compare research projects that are more scientific with projects that are less scientific. For this exercise you will select two examples of empirical research with publicly available results on the Internet.

The first step is to find two projects to compare. You should look for a project that closely adheres to the scientific method and a project that clearly does not. For example, you might search for a report or opinion poll from a commercial organization like Gallup or Roper, a news organization like the New York Times or NBC News, a research institution like Brookings or Cato, or a government agency like the Government Accounting Office or the Environmental Protection Agency. These sources are more likely to generate research projects that follow the scientific method. You might also consider projects produced by entertainment media companies like ESPN, US Weekly, or TMZ. These organizations are less likely to produce scientific research and should provide a clear contrast with more scientific work.

a. Identify the sources for the two projects you selected and briefly describe each project. Include the URLs where they can be found.

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b. Compare and contrast the scientific nature of each project. Make sure to describe the scientific components each project made use of, such as random samples, replicability, generalization, etc.

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1 Kelley Phillips Erb, “It’s No Toke: Colorado Pulls in Millions in Marijuana Tax Revenue,” Forbes, March 11, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/03/11/its-no-toke-colorado-pulls-in-millions-in-marijuana-tax- revenue/.

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Chapter 3 Beginning the Research Process Identifying a Research Topic, Developing Research Questions, and Reviewing the Literature

Probably everyone would agree that picking and narrowing a topic are the hardest tasks confronting a new researcher. One can, of course, easily identify issues worthy of research, such as the war on terror or the effects of television on democracy. But moving from a desire to “do something on ________” to a specific theme that can be researched with relatively few resources and little time can be quite challenging.

Part of the difficulty lies in having enough information about the subject matter. What is already known about it? How have previous investigators studied it? What important questions remain unanswered? All these considerations motivate the review of the literature.

Chapter 3 of the textbook provides readers with some insights and tips for conducting an effective literature review. It is particularly important that you understand the differences between different kinds of sources, such as scholarly and mass circulation publications.

We assume that everyone knows roughly how to surf the Internet. So these assignments mainly force students to think carefully about what they are looking for and finding. As mentioned in the textbook chapter, you can easily enough use Google or equivalent software to search for terrorism or television or any other subject. But these efforts are usually unsuccessful because they lead to too much irrelevant information. Instead we encourage the application of more specialized databases and library tools.

Exercise 3–1. For this exercise you will begin thinking about how to find a research question for a research paper. One potential source for ideas is a political news Web site. Visit an online political news organization like Politico.com or BBC.com. On the lines following, write six research questions based on political news stories from the organization you selected.

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6. Research question: _______________________________________________________________

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Exercise 3–2. A potential source for research topic ideas is a political science journal. To complete this exercise you will need to find a copy of a political science journal, such as the American Political Science Review. Inside you will find a series of research articles. You should choose three articles that interest you. First, for each of the articles, identify the research question. (Hint: The research question is often found in the title, in an abstract, or in the first paragraph of the article.)

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Next, think about how you might investigate a similar topic to those found in each article you have chosen. Write down three new research questions below.

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Exercise 3–3. Literature reviews are an important part of the research process. They provide the context and background so that a research project furthers our understanding of a political phenomenon by, among other things, attempting to resolve conflicting evidence, investigating a topic in different settings and populations, or using different measures of key concepts. Read the following excerpt of an article by David Niven.1

In reviewing the literature on the effects of negative campaign advertising, the author identifies several problems with the state of knowledge about the topic. What are these problems?

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A Field Experiment on the Effects of Negative Campaign Mail on Voter Turnout in a Municipal Election

DAVID NIVEN, Ohio State University

This field experiment is used to expose a random sample of voters in a 2003 mayoral race to various pieces of negative direct mail advertising. Exposure to the negative advertising stimulus improved turnout overall about 6 percent over that of the control group. Results show that different topics and amounts of negative advertising had different effects on turnout. The results suggest that alarm bells sounded by some previous research and by public officials may be overheated, because the effects of campaign negativity may not be monolithic, and it would appear political negativity can have a positive effect on turnout.

Is voter turnout subject to the effects of negative advertising? Political science research answers alternatively yes, no, or maybe. This study uses a field experiment in which voters in a mayoral contest were randomly exposed to negative campaign mail to assess the effects of negativity and move toward a better understanding of what has become a thoroughly confusing line of scholarship.

Indeed two of the most prominent studies on campaign advertising offer quite differing views on the effects of negativity. Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1995) conclude that negative ads directly result in lower voter turnout. Far from qualifying their results, Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1995:12) assert the evidence is definitive that negative campaign messages “pose a serious threat to democracy” and are “the single biggest cause” of public disdain for politics (2). By contrast, Green and Gerber (2004: 59) describe the effect of campaign advertising negativity as “slight.” Depending on the circumstances, Green and Gerber find negativity modestly nudging turnout upwards or downwards. Far from labeling their results conclusive, however, Green and Gerber suggest much more work needs to be done to better understand negativity’s effect.

While this study addresses Green and Gerber’s call for continuing research on this question, studying the effects of campaign negativity is of value beyond simply satisfying an academic curiosity. Understanding the effects of negativity obviously has implications for how candidates, parties, and interest groups conduct campaigns. Moreover, various government bodies have expressed interest in some form of negative ad regulation. Legislative proposals have been introduced at the local, state, and national level to limit negative campaigning with measures such as forcing candidates to appear in their ads or subjecting political advertising copy to some form of official scrutiny. Indeed, “I would ban negative ads,” says Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) of the legislation he would create if he could find a constitutional procedure to accomplish the task.1 Thus, to understand negativity and its effects better is to become better armed to participate in a debate which pits the First Amendment against the very popular notion of cleaning up campaigns.

Negativity and its Effects While there is no consensus definition of negative advertising, most researchers start with the notion that negativity involves the invoking of an opponent by a candidate (for example, Djupe and Peterson 2002). That is, a negative ad suggests the opponent should not be elected rather than that the sponsoring candidate should be elected. West (2001) defines a negative campaign ad as advertising that focuses at least 50 percent of its attention on the opponent rather than the sponsor of the ad. Such negativity may be focused on any aspect of the opponent’s record, statements, campaign, or background.

Precise estimates vary, but there is no doubt that negativity occupies a significant place in the modern campaign advertising arsenal. In the 2000 presidential election, for example, content analyses of television commercials from the two parties’ nominees found between half and 70 percent were negative (Benoit et al. 2003; West 2001). Other forms of communication, such as radio ads, were even more negatively oriented (Benoit et al. 2003). Looked at from another tack, researchers have found as few as 20 percent of ads directed purely toward extolling the virtues of the sponsoring candidate (Freedman and Lawton 2004).

Employing a variety of methods, researchers have produced intriguing results in studies of negativity effects. However, those results variously demonstrate the negative, positive, or lack of effect of negative advertising on voter turnout.

Negative Ads Alienate Citizens

Dating back at least to the Watergate era, political scientists have documented the capacity of the American public to become categorically dismissive of political leaders. That is, the untrustworthy behavior of one political figure can transcend the individual and come to represent the political class as a whole (Arterton 1974; Craig 1993; Miller 1974).

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Consistent with that notion, researchers have found evidence that negative political advertising negatively affects recipients’ feelings not only toward the target of the attack but also toward its sponsor (Basil, Schooler, and Reeves 1991; Lemert, Wanta, and Lee 1999; Garramone 1984; Merritt 1984; Roese and Sande 1993) and even toward politics more generally (Ansolabehere and Iyengar 1995; Ansolabehere, Iyengar, Simon, and Valentino 1994; Houston and Roskos-Ewoldsen 1998; Houston, Doan, and Roskos-Ewoldsen 1999).

Using various real world races, including senate, gubernatorial, and mayoral campaigns, Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1995) exposed subjects in a laboratory setting to campaign television ads of various tone. Participants in Ansolabehere and Iyengar’s experiments who were shown a negative television ad were almost 5 percent less likely to report they planned on voting in the upcoming election than participants who were shown a positive ad. Those who saw negative ads were also less likely to express confidence in the political system, and less likely to express political efficacy. Ansolabehere and Iyengar conclude that negativity in politics is causing declining voter interest and participation.

According to other experimental studies, the capacity for negative ads to produce diffuse political negativity varies with the precise details of the ads. For example, Budesheim, Houston, and DePaola (1996) found that unsubstantiated negative attacks reduced respondents’ ratings of both the attacker and the target. See also Shapiro and Rieger (1992). Other scholars have suggested that issue related attacks are more apt to be seen as fair game than attacks focused on personal characteristics (Johnson-Cartee and Copeland 1989; Roddy and Garramone 1988).

Nevertheless, there is a significant limitation in experimental laboratory work on this subject that is inherent to the method. For example, Ansolabehere and colleagues show subjects’ campaign ads then inquire about their intention to vote. Various other experimental studies inquire about intentions to vote, or candidate preferences, but none is equipped to measure actual resulting behavior. Of course, there is no shortage of psychological research demonstrating the gaping chasm between knowing someone’s intentions or preferences and knowing their actual resulting behavior; for example, Kaiser and Gutscher (2003). Moreover, political scientists have regularly documented the propensity of Americans to mislead researchers when they are asked about their voting habits; for example, Bernstein, Chadha, and Montjoy (2001). Thus, regardless of the rigor of the researchers or the ingenious nature of their design, the laboratory remains a difficult setting in which to demonstrate the effect of negative advertising on the real world behavior of turning out to vote.

Negative Ads Do Not Alienate Citizens

Meanwhile, other researchers posit that the effects of negativity might not be negative at all. Finkel and Geer (1998), for example, argue that negative ads stimulate turnout because they provide highly relevant information.

Indeed, researchers have attributed positive or stimulating effects to feelings of negativity as an explanation for some notable political phenomena. For example, some scholars conclude that one source of the typical midterm loss, in which the president’s party generally loses House seats in elections without the presidency on the ballot, is that voters who are critical of the president have a higher motivation to participate than voters who are positively inclined toward the president (Kernell 1977).2

Contemporary evidence also suggests that reception of negative advertising may contribute to effective citizenry. Brians and Wattenberg (1996), using survey data, show that citizens who recalled seeing negative political advertising during the 1992 presidential election were more accurate in assessing candidates’ overall issue positions in that election.3 In fact, recalling ads was more closely associated with holding accurate assessments of the candidates than was regularly watching television news or reading a newspaper. West (2001), studying the content of the ad rather than the effects on recipients, similarly supports the notion of the value of negative advertising. West (2001: 69) finds “the most substantive appeals actually came in negative spots.”

Consistent with this line of thinking, several studies have found links between campaign negativity and increased voter turnout (Lau and Pomper 2001; Djupe and Peterson 2002; Kahn and Kenney 1999; Finkel and Geer 1998; Wattenberg and Brians 1999). Based on survey results or aggregate trends, these studies are better able than laboratory experiments to demonstrate actual voter turnout, but are far weaker in demonstrating individual reception of negative ads and thus are less firmly able to demonstrate a causal link between receiving ads and deciding to vote.4

Given the limitations of both laboratory experiments and non-experimental approaches, a strong argument can be made for the need for field experiments to address negativity

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effects. Field experiments offer internal validity (with random assignment and controlled exposure to the stimulus) and external validity (with diverse participants and a measurement of the actual resulting behavior).

Relatively few field experiments on negative advertising have been reported. Pfau and Kenski (1990) did use field experiments to assess the strategic value of negative campaign messages by exposing randomly chosen voters to independently created direct mail and push poll messages. More recently, Green and Gerber (2004) have employed field experiments to study a vast array of potential campaign influences on voter turnout. Among their studies have been two which included negative political advertising sent by mail.

Green and Gerber (2004) sent negative campaign mail to a sample of voters in a Connecticut mayoral election. Here both reception of the ad and actual voter turnout can be established, and the subjects include a random sample of potential voters. Green and Gerber found the effects of negative ads on turnout in the mayoral race were negative but quite small. In another contest, using the same basic design but different mailings, they found the effect of negative ads on turnout was small but positive. Green and Gerber (2004: 59) tentatively conclude that the effect of negative campaign mail on turnout is best understood as “slight.”

Why do Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1995) find negativity an inherent threat to voter turnout while Green and Gerber (2004) find negativity has little relevance to turnout? Differences in methodology could explain the disparate conclusions. Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1995) used television to convey negative messages while Green and Gerber (2004) used mail. However, nothing in Ansolabehere and Iyengar’s (1995) theoretical approach suggests the effects of negativity require television as the medium of communication. Ansolabehere and Iyengar used a diverse but not random group of participants, while Green and Gerber (2004) used participants randomly drawn from several towns. However, nothing in Ansolabehere and Iyengar’s (1995) protocol suggests they assembled a group of participants particularly attuned to the effects of negative messages. Probably the two most significant differences between the studies are that Ansolabehere and Iyengar’s participants received their campaign communication in a laboratory, rather than in their homes (as was the case for Green and Gerber), and were asked about their intention to vote, rather than observed actually voting (as was the case for Green and Gerber). Both those factors might have contributed to an exaggeration of the negativity effect in Ansolabehere and Iyengar’s study.5 Beyond methodological differences, though, another compelling explanation exists. It is possible that both teams of researchers were measuring a realistic effect. That is, there may not be a monolithic negativity effect, and depending on the content of the ad and the circumstances of the race, negativity may in fact have quite varying effects on turnout.

Indeed, the confusing state of research in this area is well captured in Lau, Sigelman, Heldman, and Babbite’s (1999) meta-analysis of studies on negative ads. After building a weighty dossier of studies, both published and unpublished, they found that previous research findings suggesting negative ads increase turnout are available in similar quantity to findings suggesting negative ads decrease turnout. This leaves the authors to conclude that the cumulative estimated effect of all these studies of negativity on turnout approaches zero. It is, in short, an area which demands replication with the best methodological approach: a randomized field experiment.

1 Quoted in Jennifer Holland, “McCain vows to keep campaign clean no matter what,” Associated Press Wire Service, December 22, 1999.

Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 2 (June 2006): pp. 203–210

2 A variety of psychological studies suggest the potential for superficially “negative” messages to have a “positive” effect on behavior. The implications of several lines of research considering the effects of showing people the negatives of such behaviors as cigarette smoking (Grandpre et. al. 2003) and motorcycle riding (Bellaby and Lawrenson 2001) find that simply demonstrating negatives is not an effective strategy in preventing participation. Indeed, the negative messages may draw attention and interest, and ultimately augment willingness to participate.

3 Some have argued that the implied causality is backwards. That is, remembering ads does not encourage clear thoughts on issues, but having clear thoughts on issues does encourage remembering ads. See, for example, Ansolabehere, Iyengar, and Simon (1999).

4 There is a further concern in aggregate studies. If candidates use negativity strategically, as we have every reason to believe they do (Theilmann and Wilhite 1998), then an accurate measure of campaign negativity may be, in effect, a proxy for some other variable affecting turnout. For example, Djupe and Peterson’s (2002) data suggest that the amount of negativity in the U.S. Senate primaries they studied rose with the number of quality candidates. They attribute the resulting higher turnout to the campaign negativity, but surely an equally strong case could be made that the presence of more quality candidates was the true source of the turnout increase.

5 Ansolabehere and colleagues dispute the notion that their techniques exaggerated the effect of negativity. Indeed, they label their estimate of negativity’s effect as “conservative” (Ansolabehere, Iyengar, Simon, and Valentino 1994: 835).

Exercise 3–4. Suppose you are working as a research assistant for a professor of political science who is beginning a new book about the current state of income inequality in the United States. She needs to make sure that she has read as much serious analytic writing as possible and wants you to begin compiling a bibliography of published materials. Which of the following potential sources would you add to the list? Why? For each source below, indicate if it should be on the high priority list (a list of the most important analytic treatments) or on the low priority list (a list of less important sources). Explain your reasoning.

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a. Economist Thomas Piketty’s 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

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b. A 2013 National Public Radio interview with economist Tyler Cowan, author of Average Is Over.

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Thomas Edsall’s review in the New York Times of Joseph Stiglitz’s 2012 book, The Price of Inequality.

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d. A report titled “The Truth about Income Inequality,” produced by the Center of the American Experiment.

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e. A 2015 article titled “The Fiscal Disadvantage of Young Italians: A New View on Consolidation and Fairness,” published in the Journal of Economic Inequality.

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f. Jill Lepore’s article, “Richer and Poorer, Accounting for Inequality,” in New Yorker magazine.

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g. A news article by Jim Siegel in the Columbus Dispatch about income inequality in Ohio titled “Income Gap Less in Ohio but Growing Everywhere.”

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h. A 2014 editorial in the Washington Times titled “Obama’s ‘Income Inequality’ Deeper from Bailing out His Rich Wall Street Donors.”

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Exercise 3–5. Suppose you want to write a term paper or scholarly report on one of the following subjects: immigration policy in the United States, the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the World Trade Organization, or climate change. Use one of these popular search engines—Google, Alltheweb, or Yahoo!—to begin building a bibliography.

a. Which search program did you choose?

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b. How many hits did your first search produce?

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How many sources on the first page of the search do you think would be helpful in writing an academic research report? Explain.

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d. Compile a brief bibliography—three citations for each of the following categories about your topic. See the textbook for a suggested format.

1. Articles in the mass media, such as newspapers and magazines

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2. Essays, reports, and discussions published on the Internet or elsewhere by advocacy groups, not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies

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3. Scholarly articles

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e. Now conduct a search using the other search engines. Do these search engines generally locate the same sources, or are there important differences in what each finds? Which do you prefer? Why? And, more importantly, do you see the need to limit a topic?

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Exercise 3–6. In this exercise you will examine a research article with respect to its citations to learn how to find related work. Literature reviews can be completed much more quickly if you can efficiently find research related to your topic of study. Imagine that you are interested in researching how people connect through social associations. You begin by finding one article written by Kwak, Shah, and Holbert that is directly related to your topic. You should find the article in the Social Science Citation index (also known as Web of Science) or Google Scholar using this citation: Nojin Kwak, Dhavan V. Shah, and R. Lance Holbert, “Connecting, Trusting, and Participating: The Direct and Interactive Effects of Social Associations,” Political Research Quarterly 57, no. 4 (2004): 643–52. Now answer the questions below and think about how each answer could help you find additional materials for your own project.

a. How many sources did this article cite?

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b. What kind of sources were cited, and in what fields of study were the citations located?

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c. Click on each author’s name. How many citations are listed for each? Do the topics of other work related to the article you are investigating appear? What evidence did you use to make this judgment?

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d. How many times has this article been cited?

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e. What kinds of work were cited in this article, and in what fields of study were the citations located?

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Exercise 3–7. Use Web of Science or Google Scholar to search for articles related to one of the following topics:

1. Do harsh penalties have any effect on illegal drug use? 2. Is the South more politically conservative than other regions? 3. The role of civic culture in democracy 4. Why do some states enact laws against gay marriage? 5. Immigration to the United States from Latin America

Using an acceptable format, list your first five sources here.

1. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. ________________________________________________________________________________ 4. ________________________________________________________________________________ 5. ________________________________________________________________________________

Exercise 3–8. Suppose you are interning with your state’s Office of the Attorney General. Your boss is interested in reviewing scientific evidence about the potential negative effects of voter identification laws because your state legislature is considering making the state’s voter identification laws more stringent. Your task is to find relevant political science research articles that can help inform your boss on the topic. Use the search engine of your choice to find six articles published in political science journals. List the citations below.

1. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. ________________________________________________________________________________ 4. ________________________________________________________________________________ 5. ________________________________________________________________________________ 6. ________________________________________________________________________________

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Helpful Hints

A Trick for Finding Sources JSTOR may not be of much use because it does not yet archive many psychology journals, and these journals are where a lot of the relevant literature is published. You could use Web of Science or some other database that includes articles from psychology journals. Or try this tactic: use the Internet to find papers that take a position on a topic one way or the other. Then, as described in chapter 3 of the textbook, consult the bibliographies and notes of the papers you find to “pyramid” further the list of sources. And, if in doubt about the references’ appropriateness (for example, are they based on sound research conducted by reputable scholars and organizations?), try to track the references down in the library.

Exercise 3–9. Sharpen your literature review skills by finding and listing six articles that rely primarily, or to some degree, on randomized experiments. A specific database such as JSTOR will be most rewarding. But here is a tip that can be applied to just about any kind of search: read abstracts when available instead of trying to skim entire articles. Using a correct format, list the results of your search here.

1. ________________________________________________________________________________ 2. ________________________________________________________________________________ 3. ________________________________________________________________________________ 4. ________________________________________________________________________________ 5. ________________________________________________________________________________ 6. ________________________________________________________________________________

Exercise 3–10. If you know of scholars who have conducted research on a topic of interest—perhaps you have culled names from the bibliographies in textbooks—you can search for their Web pages. Frequently these pages will provide a curriculum vitae or list of publications, some of which may be in electronic form. Using the name of an author of an article or book listed on one of your syllabi from a political science course, search for the author’s Web page and print out his or her curriculum vitae or list of publications.

1 David Niven, “A Field Experiment on the Effects of Negative Campaign Mail on Voter Turnout in a Municipal Election,” Political Research Quarterly 59, no. 2 (2006), 203–10. Excerpt from 203–5. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications Inc.

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