Tag Archives: Congress

Federal impasse averted, but fundamental partisan differences divide the U.S. government

U.S. Capital Building, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Ed Brown.

The Federal budget was finally passed by the U.S. Congress at the last possible hour this past Friday before a complete shut-down of the government, which would have disrupted services in the U.S. and abroad.  Debates between the Republicans and Democrats have become more intractable and heated recently regarding spending and deficit reduction.

In research conducted by Sheldon and Nichols (2009), participants who identified as Republican or Democrat differed on the importance they assigned to extrinsic and intrinsic values.  Republicans were higher on extrinsic values (money, popularity, and image) than Democrats, while Democrats were higher on intrinsic values (intimacy, helping, and growth).  In other research, when threat from the outgroup party was present (versus not present), people who identify as political conservatives had high Social Dominance Orientation scores (endorsement of social hierarchy).  However, self-identifying liberals in the threat condition had low SDO scores (Morrison & Ybarra, 2009).

It might be difficult to generalize research on undergraduate samples to political representatives in Washington, D.C., but these findings highlight potential differences in values and threat responses between the political parties making important decisions for the future of the United States.  Nevertheless, these differences should not prevent necessary cooperation and compromise.

To read more:

Morrison, K. R. and Ybarra, O. (2009). Symbolic threat and social dominance among liberals and conservatives: SDO reflects conformity to political values. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 1039 – 1052.

Sheldon, K. M. and Nichols, C. P. (2009). Comparing Democrats and Republicans on Intrinsic and Extrinsic Values. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 589 – 623.

Federal Budget (2011) – Government Showdown Averted

 

Obama to lay out plan this week to cut deficit

Protecting the powerful

By, Adam K. Fetterman
Minnesota representative Michelle Bachmann has had her share of questionable moments in the past. For example, she once referred to President Obama and his wife as “anti-American”. She also seems to side with the powerful. The most recent example of this comes in regards to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the lack of safety measures, BP has been expected to take responsibility and face the consequences of the disaster. While most people are concerned about the victims that have lost their livelihoods, Michelle Bachmann seems to be worried about BP and has warned that BP should be wary not to be “fleeced and ma[d]e chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest”. She went on to say “The other thing we have to remember is that Obama loves to make evil whatever company it is that he wants to get more power from.” These comments appear to indicate that Rep. Bachmann is more interested in protecting the oil company, than the people suffering from the spill.

System justification theory is a process in which individuals tend to justify the status quo, regardless of the fairness of the practices (Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004). For example, one may defend unfair actions or even blame (Napier, Mandisodza, Andersen, & Jost, 2006) the less fortunate in order to maintain the view that the current system is fair and/or to maintain one’s own status. Therefore, perhaps Rep. Bachmann feels that BP needs protection because it may challenge the current power hierarchy. As mentioned in her second quote above, she feels President Obama “wants to get more power from” BP. It may also be that she is worried that if the government is too hard on BP that it will lead to significant change in the way the government regulates powerful companies. Or maybe her only worry is that this will result in “paying $9 for a gallon of gas“. Either way, it seems she is worried more about the perpetrators than the victims.

“Michele Bachmann Channels McCarthy: Obama “Very Anti-American,” Congressional Witch Hunt Needed” By, Sam Stein – Huffington Post

“Bachmann to BP: Don’t ‘be chumps’” By, David Weigel – Right Now – Washington Post

Jost et al. (2004). A Decade of System Justification Theory: Accumulated Evidence of Conscious and Unconscious Bolstering of the Status Quo. Political Psychology, 25, 881-919.

Napier et al. (2006). System Justification in Responding to the Poor and Displaced in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Analysis of Social Issues and Public Policy, 6, 57-73.

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Persuasion, Ambiguity, and the Health Care Debate

We have a long way to go before the healthcare debate is over. In a tight vote last week the Democrats in the Senate managed to avoid a Republican filibuster. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to be waging two wars: one on the floor of the Senate and the other over the airwaves. The battle to win the health care debate will all be for naught if public opinion isn’t also won in the process. Whether it be via television, radio, or the internet politicians are going all out to reach as many voters as possible. Are these attempts to persuade the public successful? Recent work by Ziegler & Diehl (2003) has shown that people are more persuaded by unambiguous strong positions relative to unambiguous weak messages. More interestingly, when messages were ambiguous participants relied on their source preferences to determine their endorsement of the message. Ultimately it appears that those who already like and support you don’t need to hear much of substance to be persuaded by you. Those against you or your position aren’t likely to be persuaded at all, but the only chance you’ve got is to state your message in unequivocal terms and hope that it gets through. In the current political climate this seems to indicate only a greater and more extreme level of polarization without much real or significant debate.

Ziegler & Diehl (2003)

After the Health Vote, Republicans Plot Attack Strategy

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