Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thinking About Obama Doesn't Make Me Smarter, But Living in Germany Might....

The Obama Effect: An Experimental Test

Joshua Aronson, Sheana Jannone, Matthew McGlone & Tanisha Johnson-Campbell
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Past research on stereotype threat and role model effects, as well as a recent quasi-experiment (Marx, Ho, & Freidman, this issue) suggested the possibility of an "Obama effect" on African American's standardized test performance, whereby the salience of Barack Obama's stereotype defying success could positively impact performance. We tested this reasoning in a randomized experiment with a broad sample of college students from across the country. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that students prompted to think about Barack Obama prior to taking a difficult standardized verbal test would improve their performance relative to white students, and to African American students in control conditions that were not prompted to think about Obama. Our results did not support this hypothesis. Test scores were unaffected by prompts to think about Obama and no relationship was found between test performance and positive thoughts about Obama, a disconfirmation of both the findings and conclusions of the Marx, Ho, and Freidman study.


Cultural Borders and Mental Barriers: The Relationship Between Living Abroad and Creativity

William Maddux & Adam Galinsky
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May 2009, Pages 1047-1061

Despite abundant anecdotal evidence that creativity is associated with living in foreign countries, there is currently little empirical evidence for this relationship. Five studies employing a multimethod approach systematically explored the link between living abroad and creativity. Using both individual and dyadic creativity tasks, Studies 1 and 2 provided initial demonstrations that time spent living abroad (but not time spent traveling abroad) showed a positive relationship with creativity. Study 3 demonstrated that priming foreign living experiences temporarily enhanced creative tendencies for participants who had previously lived abroad. In Study 4, the degree to which individuals had adapted to different cultures while living abroad mediated the link between foreign living experience and creativity. Study 5 found that priming the experience of adapting to a foreign culture temporarily enhanced creativity for participants who had previously lived abroad. The relationship between living abroad and creativity was consistent across a number of creativity measures (including those measuring insight, association, and generation), as well as with masters of business administration and undergraduate samples, both in the United States and Europe, demonstrating the robustness of this phenomenon.

The Contemporary Presidency: Decision Making in the Bush White House

James Pfiffner Presidential Studies Quarterly, June 2009, Pages 363-384

The White House Office is so large and complex that a systematic process of policy evaluation is essential in order to provide the president with a range of options on all important policy decisions. Some of the most important decisions that President George W. Bush made in his first term were taken without the benefit of broad deliberation within the White House or cabinet. This article will take up four cases of policy decisions to illustrate the lack of a regular policy process and consultation that characterized many important decisions of the Bush Administration. Two focus on detainee policy: the military commissions order of November 13, 2001, and the February 7, 2002, decision to suspend the Geneva Conventions. And two are about the war in Iraq: the initial decision to go to war and the decision to disband the Iraqi army. The pattern that emerges from an examination of these four decisions is one of secrecy, top-down control, tightly held information, disregard for the judgments of career professionals, and the exclusion from deliberation of qualified executive branch experts who might have disagreed with those who initially framed the decisions.


The persuasiveness of the straw man rhetorical technique

George Bizer, Shirel Kozak & Leigh Ann Holterman Social Influence, July
2009, Pages 216-230

The straw man technique takes place when an opponent's argument or position is distorted or oversimplified so that it can easily be refuted. Two experiments assessed the technique's effectiveness. Participants read two passages ostensibly written by two people competing for a public office, the second of which did or did not include a straw man argument. In Experiment 1, participants led to believe that the office was of low personal relevance were more persuaded by the straw man technique. In Experiment 2, participants low in need for structure were less persuaded when a candidate used the technique. Our research therefore suggests that whereas the straw man may be effective when motivation to elaborate is low, the technique may be unsuccessful or even backfire when such motivation is high.

(Nod to Kevin L)


Steve in NC said...

I have recently found this blog and it is very interesting. I voted for Mike Munger for Governor since he had many good ideas to improve North Carolina (some of which, like the roads commission have been taken up by others). However I have seen a video of him attending and speaking to the teabag "anti-tax/anti-Government/ anti everything" event in April I am very dissapointed. Mike was not reasoned, played to the gallery and anger. It was what I expected from Fox New or Rush L, not from a respected academic and potential Governor.

Mike was someone I respected but if he goes down the hard right, lets question Obama's birth certificate route then he loses mine and many others vote.

By the way why did Mike Munger poll less than Chris Cole who was the LP candidate for Senate? Mike has much more publicity. Interesting questions, answers welcomed.

aub said...


I heard Mike's speech at the Raleigh Tea Party. I thought his reasoning was about the same as in his other political speeches and I didn't find it to be that much more playing to the crowd than any other politician - Obama, Bush, Perdue, or otherwise. (BTW, if you want to hear his reasoning behind his views, he has done a number of interviews on EconTalk and elsewhere.)

I assume that when you voted for Mike for governor, you knew he was on a platform for the Libertarian Party. Your surprise that he would then show up at an anti-tax / small-government rally is puzzling. (The fact that you call it the 'teabag' party, may be a clue.)

That said, I've never heard him or Angus ever say anything about Obama's birth certificate here or elsewhere, so I'm not sure where that came from.

Steve in NC said...

Aub - I knew Mike was a libertarian and that is great. He also has/had great practical ideas for NC including removing enforced annexations, non political roads commision etc.

the April events were Fox News advertised, GOP run events which were essentially anti-Obama. Now that is fine but I do question people (not Mike) who got religion on the Federal deficits on Nov 5th (ie as soon as Obama was elected). Where were they in the past 8 years when the GOP gave us unfunded entitlements (prescription drug benefit), war and doubled the deficit.

Mike's tone on the video is much more angry - he even goads the crowd to be even more angry. Not the most productive emotion to get stuff done. I respect Mike but in this event he seemed more like a Sean Hannity, Rush L type person than a reasoned, intelligent person.

Steve in NC said...

Aub - you seem to say Mike should just be another politican like Obama or Purdue. I thought you would hold Mike ot a higher, more rational standard.
Ron Paul did not play to the gallary when he was in the "Value Voters" debates for the GOP nomination and told the Christian Right some hard truths.
Also Mike said in the teabag event that he is a recovering Republican. That is disappointing too.

Mungowitz said...

I have never questioned President Obama's birth certificate, and have several times claimed that that controversy was misguided.

And, at the Tea Party, I criticized the Republicans. I think you need to watch the videotape.

Chris Cole did do better than I did. And I expect that is a credit to him. But it is true that exec offices, at the top of the ticket, especially Prez and Gov, always do worse than the legislative offices.

Still, I think that this is a credit to Chris. He is a good candidate. If you want to interpret that as a slight on me, I'll accept that, because I admire Chris a lot. The fact that he did better doesn't bother me; he's a fine man, and a fine candidate.

Mungowitz said...

Ah, fair enough. If you think that criticizing the Republicans is a mistake, then you have every right to be disappointed. I did do that.

Sorry for misunderstanding, and sorry to let you down, Steve!


aub said...

I'm afraid I don't hold Mike to a higher, more rational standard. As long as he's running for public office, I assume he's lying through his teeth to get elected (sorry, Mike). His actions, accomplishments and associations prior to running for office form my opinion of what he is likely to do once he's in office. Everything else is just ginning up enough excitement to get people to vote.

Where were the Tea Party folks in the last eight years? Slowly getting pissed off enough to spend a Wednesday night with a few thousand other pissed off people. That's not natural for most folks.

So why now? It may be the same reason the Chinese have been willing to purchase gobs of our debt before but have suddenly balked in the past several months - a $200 billion deficit, though sickening, is much different than a $2 trillion deficit.

Anonymous said...

The administration's idea is that adding a massive health-care program this year can fix the broader budget problems. If that sounds too good to be true, there's a reason. To voice your opinion visit

Steve in NC said...

aub - very convenient to say that people got slowly pissed off over the last 8 years and their anger just bubbled over suddenly last November when a Democrat got elected. Nothing to do with politics :-)) If you seriously believe that then there is no hope for you.

As Jon Stewart so eloquently said it - "it's not tyranny, you just lost" (I paraphrase).

Mike - I know you have not questioned Obama's birth certificate or any of those other conspiracy theories (he is a Muslim etc). But you in the teabag event seemed to align yourself with folks who do. That is unfortunate. I didn`t say critisicng the Republicans was a mistake and I did listen tot he whole 6 minute video and I didn`t really hear anything about the GOP more than doubling the debt in the past 8 years, taking a surplus and creating a deficit and spending money on stuff we don`t need (war, unlike roads or universal healthcare).

I will still consider you if you run in 2012 since you had good, practical ideas. Just don`t associate yourself with the GOP too much or you will lose cross over Dem support.

aub said...

Hopeless? Meh. I've been called worse. For example, my wife's liberal aunt says I'm "too stupid to be led," and I agree with her wholeheartedly.

But I'm not so sure that I'm hopeless. I'm willing to listen and keep an open mind on how the deficit was dangerous before, but not anymore.

When you're ready, I'll be waiting over here with those right-wing partisans, the Chinese. But I'll warn you, they'll expect you to show your math. Or at least they did with Geithner.

Steve in NC said...

Aub - the deficit is important now, I haven't said otherwise. What annoys me is intellectual inconsistency (so I am repeatedly annoyed!) and in this case many people found religion on the deficit on Nov 5th!

aub said...

It's true that some folks are being hypocritical and inconsistent, including potentially some at the Tea Parties. But then, every church has hypocrites. That's the price paid for having open doors.

Fortunately, you can usually spot a hypocrite. Take McCain, for example. He tried to talk a good "small government" game, but he could never quite pull it off. His unease in answering fiscal questions during the debates showed that he had not learned the underlying philosophy - and he paid for it on election day. He didn't know the shibboleth, if you will.


I'd still like to hear why you think the Chinese sounded the alarm about the deficits now rather than before.

Steve in NC said...

Aub - I think it is more than a few hyporcrites at the tea parties.

Regarding the Chinese I think the timing is due to several things :

a) the deficit is increasing and could eventually effect their investments
b) they are flexing some muscle at the start of a new administration
c) they are more self confident now than in say 2003, 2004 etc and the global financial crisis has added tot hhat confidence that they will be an equal to the US. They also think they will become the pre-eminent power in the later part of the century. Much like the US took over from the UK in the early 20th Century.

Why do you think the Chinese are sounding the alarm?

aub said...

I think it's primarily the increasing deficit, as well. Increasing a deficit in 2007 of around 2% GDP to a deficit of more than 12% GDP in 2009 is astounding.

But then there's also the method used to pay for that deficit - 'quantitative easing,' also know by its technical term 'printing boatloads of money.' I'm guessing the Chinese don't like that very much, because that deflates the dollar and in the process the value of their treasury holdings.

At the same time, it inflates the cost of gasoline and other imports. You may have noticed that Americans don't care too much when the cost of gas increases.

The follow-up question: are the Chinese then being inconsistent and hypocritical by bashing Obama and not Bush on this issue, or is there a double standard between the Chinese and Americans?

AMIT said...

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