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)