Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Studies I'd Like To See

We have the presidential election, so here are some studies I'd like to see done.
  • Assuming Obama is the Democratic nominee, a study of "knowledge" about him that focuses more on misinformation than actual fact. For example, who thinks he is secretly a Muslim and what media do they consume, if any? Internet? Talk radio?
  • Ditto on McCain, especially the notion floating around that he caved to torture while being held in Vietnam.
  • Which areas of "knowledge" (from misinformation to actual information) best predict vote choice.
  • Trust in government. This is an interest of mine and I'm doing some work at the moment on this topic. Trust has eroded of late. Will this year see a blip up? And what are the predictors and consequences of such trust?
  • Conservative Christians ... where do they go? I'd love to see some in-depth work done on what they learned and how they learned about this campaign, probably through focus groups and in-depth interviews. They are conflicted given the GOP candidate isn't truly a good fit. Reminds me of the old cross-pressure research.
  • Media fragmentation. Another favorite topic of mine, so this time where are people learning about the campaign. As I've said earlier, I suspect advertising to play a greater role than ever before as people flee news for entertainment-oriented fare. Ads can still reach those folks. Knowledge -> Turnout.

I'm sure I'll think of others, but every election is a moment ripe for research ideas. I've got my own plans, some of which resemble those above, but I hope to see other people doing neat stuff.


bethany said...

Why do you say trust in government is down? I know MY trust is, but it seems like supporting things like waterboarding and wiretapping takes quite a bit of trust.
(by the way, I read your blog from time to time now)

Hollander said...

Trust shifts, and probably the general public's indifference to wiretapping and even waterboarding has to do with the "rally" effect we often find.

In PhDweeb mode: trust in government has been in slow decline since the 1970s (Watergate, Vietnam, etc.). Brief blips of improvement, followed by more decline. In 1965, 76% of Americans said they trusted government most of the time. 1995 was the low, about 21%. Now it's edging up, a 9/11 effect that'll fade soon.

btw, I love "unnecessary quotations." In fact, I just used some. All I need is to raise my hands and do that "quote" thing. Doesn't work in text very well.