Research

PUBLICATIONS

Archer, Allison M. N. 2018. “Political Advantage, Disadvantage, and the Demand for Partisan News.” The Journal of Politics 80(3): 845-859.

In this article, I argue that the national political environment can meaningfully affect variation in aggregate demand for partisan media. I focus on the relationship between the political context—namely, political advantage and disadvantage derived from elections—and media demand in the form of partisan newspaper circulations. Using a data set that characterizes the partisan slant of local newspapers and their circulation levels between 1932 and 2004, I find that when parties are electorally advantaged in presidential contests, demand for their affiliated newspapers decreases relative to demand for papers affiliated with disadvantaged parties. I uncover evidence of similar patterns in a case study of Florida newspapers, and I also compare the power of presidential versus congressional outcomes in shaping feelings of advantage and disadvantage. Taken together, these results provide evidence of a negative link between political advantage derived from presidential elections and the relative demand for partisan news.

Archer, Allison M. N. and Joshua D. Clinton. 2018. “Changing Owners, Changing Content: Does Who Owns the News Matter for the News? Political Communication 35(3): 353-370.

The press is essential for creating an informed citizenry, but its existence depends on attracting and maintaining an audience. It is unclear whether supply-side effects—including those dictated by the owners of the media—influence how the media cover politics, yet this question is essential given their abilities to set the agenda and frame issues that are covered. We examine how ownership influences media behavior by investigating the impact of Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in August 2007. We collect data on every front-page story and editorial for 27 months, and we compare the difference in political coverage between the New York Times (NYT) and WSJ using a difference-in-differences design. We show that the amount of political content in the opinion pages of the two papers were unchanged by the sale, but the WSJ’s front-page coverage of politics increased markedly relative to the NYT. Similar patterns emerge when comparing the WSJ’s content to USA Today and the Washington Post. Our finding highlights potential limits to journalists’ ability to fulfill their supposed watchdog role in democracies without interference from owners in the boardroom.

Kam, Cindy D., Allison M. N. Archer, and John G. Geer. 2017. “Courting the Women’s Vote: The Emotional, Cognitive, and Persuasive Effects of Gender-Based Appeals in Campaign Advertisements.” Political Behavior 39(1): 51-75. 

In this paper, we examine the ways in which citizens emotionally react to and cognitively process campaign advertisements that contain group-based appeals. Specifically, we focus on the emotional, cognitive, and persuasive effects of three campaign ads aired during the 2012 election campaign that contained explicit appeals to women voters. We analyze differences across women and men in their emotional responses to the ads, in their reports of the memorability of the ads, in their cognitive engagement with the ads, and in how persuasive the ads were for vote choice. In so doing, we add nuance to studies of gender and campaigns and contribute to the expanding literature on the impact of strategic campaign communications.


WORKING PAPERS

Archer, Allison M. N. “Expectations and Engagement in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.”

This paper examines how individual-level predictions about the 2016 U.S. presidential election—coupled with the actual election result—affected citizens’ opinions and political engagement. Prior work suggests electoral disadvantage (predicting or experiencing a loss) often promotes engagement through mechanisms such as anxiety, while advantage (predicting or experiencing a win) may stifle engagement unless a sufficient amount of enthusiasm is marshaled. I largely find evidence of these patterns in the 2016 election using survey data and trends in Google searches. Electoral losers (Clinton voters) sought more information about their affiliated political groups and were more willing to engage in political acts than electoral winners (Trump voters) after the election. Notably, the effects of disadvantage were exacerbated among Clinton voters who thought she would win prior to November 8, which suggests the disjuncture between expectations and outcomes made electoral disadvantage a particularly motivating force for them. However, some boundaries to these effects also emerge. Trump voters who believed he would lose prior to the election were consistently less politically engaged before and after Election Day, which suggests initial expectations of a loss can sometimes morph into despair and depress political engagement.

Archer, Allison M. N. and Cindy D. Kam. “She’s the Chair(man): Gender, Language, and Leadership.”

In this paper, we examine the effects of two potential obstacles to female leadership: gendered language and modern sexism.  We argue that gendered language – specifically, in the form of masculine leadership titles – primes gendered considerations and stereotypes in a manner that promotes male leadership and undermines female leadership.  Through a series of experiments, we find that in surreptitious tasks, gendered language (“Chairman” vs. “Chair”) increases beliefs that the leader is a man.  In a separate task more overtly about gender and leadership, we find that gendered titles matter primarily for male respondents’ evaluations of leaders as does the endorsement of modern sexist beliefs.  Thus, gendered language and modern sexism serve as powerful forces that undermine expectations and evaluations of women in leadership positions.

Archer, Allison M. N. and Cindy D. Kam. “Modern Sexism in Modern Times: Public Opinion in the #MeToo Era.”

In the United States, issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gendered power imbalances have risen to prominence in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and the #MeToo movement. In this paper, we draw upon on a unique panel dataset spanning the 2016 presidential campaign to the spring of 2018 to assess the degree to which levels of modern sexism have changed in response to current events and to examine the role of modern sexism in shaping public opinion. Despite the dramatic rise in the salience of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, we uncover very little change in levels of sexist predispositions from 2016 to 2018. We do find evidence that modern sexism strongly shapes citizens’ affective evaluations of a broad array of leaders across the political spectrum, generating warmth towards Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and other conservative leaders and disdain towards figures most associated with progressive stances on the issue, such as Kirsten Gillibrand and Oprah Winfrey. In examining how credible respondents found allegations of misconduct implicating specific high-profile individuals, we uncover an interaction between modern sexism and partisanship such that modern sexists are generally less willing to believe the allegations, except when the accused is an out-partisan. Finally, we find that modern sexism significantly correlates with views undercutting the pervasiveness of the issue, beliefs that #MeToo has gone too far, views that individuals (not corporations) are responsible for solving the problem, and opposition to mandatory workplace training. Overall, our evidence suggests that modern sexism is firmly entrenched in the American public and readily connected to evaluations of political figures and public policies.

Archer, Allison M. N. and Cecilia H. Mo. “What Appeals Are Most Effective at Recruiting Targeted Samples for Survey Research?” 

Though nationally representative samples are often deemed the gold standard in survey and experimental work, certain research questions require the study of narrower populations. For instance, scholars studying bureaucrats, legislative staff members or foreign aid workers may need to recruit from such specific populations. We attempt to understand which rhetorical strategies are most effective in asking members associated with specific organizations—Teach For Australia, in our case—to participate in research. We randomly assigned former Teach For Australia applicants to one of seven messages encouraging their participation in an ongoing impact evaluation study, and find that for those with a connection to the organization (i.e., those previously admitted to the program), appeals inducing cognitive dissonance are the most effective. For those not previously admitted, emphasizing monetary rewards in exchange for participation is most successful. Finally, appeals using peer pressure and emphasizing volunteerism were consistently the least effective messages.