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A Dirty Word Or A Dirty World?. Attribute Framing, Politics, and Query Theory. David Hardisty, Eric Johnson & Elke Weber Columbia University NSF SES-03455840 & SES-0352062 NIA 5R01AG027934-02 . TAX. A Paradox?. Leading economists and climate scientists advocate a CO 2 tax

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A dirty word or a dirty world l.jpg

A Dirty Word Or A Dirty World?

Attribute Framing, Politics, and Query Theory

David Hardisty, Eric Johnson & Elke Weber

Columbia University

NSF SES-03455840 & SES-0352062

NIA 5R01AG027934-02


Slide2 l.jpg

TAX


A paradox l.jpg

A Paradox?

  • Leading economists and climate scientists advocate a CO2 tax

  • Few US politicians mention a CO2 tax

  • Meanwhile, the carbon offset (and credit) industry allows people to voluntarily pay more


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The Quayle Conjecture

“Our party has been accused of fooling the public by calling tax increases ‘revenue enhancement’. Not so. No one was fooled.”-- J. Danforth Quayle, V.P., 1989-1993


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Attribute Framing

  • Labels make a big difference

  • People pay more for 75% lean than 25% fat (Levin & Gaeth, 1988)

  • Doctors & patients prefer survival rate to mortality rate (Marteau, 1980; McNeil, Pauker, Sox & Tversky, 1982)

  • Women, but not men, prefer an 80% fat-free chocolate bar (Braun, Gaeth & Levin, 1997)


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Political Ideology

  • Strong, reliable individual differences based on political conservatism (Jost, 2006)

  • Conservatives sensitive to the labeling of financial options (Morris, Carranza & Fox, in press)

  • Perhaps conservatives are uniquely sensitive to the “tax” label


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Predictions

  • More support for the offset label than the tax label

  • More support among Democrats than Republicans across labels

  • Republicans more strongly affected by the labeling


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Study 1: Participants

  • 275 US Residents

  • Mean age = 41 (SD = 13)

  • Recruited and run online

  • 38% Democrats, 25% Republicans, 37% none of the above

  • No significant demographic differences among parties


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Study 1: Methods

  • Proposal to increase cost of certain products believed to contribute to global warming through energy use and resulting CO2 emissions

  • Price increases would fund programs to decrease CO2 levels by funding alternative energies or carbon sequestration

  • Proposal described as carbon tax or carbon offset (between subjects manipulation)


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Study 1: Methods

Suppose you are purchasing a round trip flight from Los Angeles to New York city, and you are debating between two tickets, one of which includes a carbon tax [offset]. You are debating between the following two tickets, which are otherwise identical. Which would you choose?


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Study 1: Methods

  • How strongly would you prefer Ticket A or Ticket B? (-2 = Strongly Prefer B to +2 = Strongly Prefer A)

  • Do you think the carbon tax [offset] included in Ticket A should be made mandatory for all airline tickets sold in the US? (-3 = DefinitelyNot to 3 = Definitely)


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Study 1: Methods

  • Environmental attitudes questionnaire (NEPr, Dunlap et al., 2000)

  • Demographic questions, including political affiliation


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Study 1: Flight Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


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Study 1: Flight Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 1 flight choices15 l.jpg

Study 1: Flight Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 1 flight choices16 l.jpg

Study 1: Flight Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 1 gas choices l.jpg

Study 1: Gas Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Brand

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 1 electricity choices l.jpg

Study 1: Electricity Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Option

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


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Study 1: Computer Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Computer

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 1 preferences l.jpg

Study 1: Preferences

2

1.5

1

0.5

Offset

Mean Preference for the More Costly Product

0

Tax

-0.5

-1

-1.5

-2

Democrat

Independent

Republican


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Study 1: Support for Regulation

3

2

1

Offset

Mean Support for Regulation

0

Tax

-1

-2

-3

Democrat

Independent

Republican


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What About Environmental Attitudes?

16

14

12

10

Mean NEPr

8

6

4

2

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 1 environmental attitudes l.jpg

Study 1: Environmental Attitudes

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Tax

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Option

0.5

Offset

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

25

50

75

100

Environmental Attitudes (NEPr) Quartile


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Study 1: Education

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Tax

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Option

0.5

Offset

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

2-Year Degree or Less

Bachelor's Degree

Graduate Degree


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Study 1: Discussion

  • Effect of labeling depended on political affiliation

  • Little is known about the cognitive or affective processes driving attribute framing effects

  • In Study 2, we explored the cognitive mechanisms underlying preference construction


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Query Theory (Johnson et al., 2007)

  • Preferences constructed from memory

  • Series of mental queries for and against each option

  • The resulting balance of evidence determines your preference

  • Order matters: due to output interference, the second query generates less support


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Query Theory: Empirical Support

  • Endowment effect: ownership changes the order of queries (Johnson et al., 2007)

  • Intertemporal choice: accelerate-delay effect (Weber et al., 2007)

  • Reversing the natural order of queries eliminates these effects


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Query Theory: Hypotheses

  • Label will affect ordering of thoughts supporting or opposed to carbon fee

  • Republicans will have immediate, negative thoughts in response to the tax label

  • The ordering will affect the balance of support, in turn predicting choices


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Alternative Hypothesis: Affect

  • Perhaps Republicans have a negative affective reaction to the word tax, which changes their mood and alters their processing and choices


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Study 2: Participants

  • 373 US Residents

  • 39% Democrats, 21% Republicans, 24% Independents, 16% none of the above


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Study 2: Methods

  • Participants practiced listing their thoughts

  • Read description of tax/offset program

  • Listed thoughts about the two airline tickets

  • Indicated their choice, preference strength, and support for regulation

  • Reported positive & negative feelings (“affect”)

  • Self-coded their thoughts

  • Reported demographics


Study 2 choices l.jpg

Study 2: Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 2 choices36 l.jpg

Study 2: Choices

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Offset

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.5

Tax

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 2 positive affect l.jpg

Study 2: Positive Affect

4

3.5

3

Offset

Mean Positive Affect

2.5

Tax

2

1.5

1

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 2 negative affect l.jpg

Study 2: Negative Affect

4

3.5

3

Offset

Mean Negative Affect

2.5

Tax

2

1.5

1

Democrat

Independent

Republican


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Thought Examples

  • good for the environment

  • carbon offset is not that much more than regular ticket

  • what does the extra money do to offset the carbon


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Thought Examples

  • we are taxed too much

  • I don't want to pay additional tax


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Thought Examples

  • Why would I ever pay extra for this?

  • I really don't care about a 'carbon tax'

  • If it's the same thing, get rid of the tax

  • The government needs to stop taxing us randomly

  • I will be old or dead by the time this world has an energy crisis

  • And by that i mean a huge one where we are all f***ed

  • This is a ridiculous thought to have


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Thought Examples

  • tree huggers

  • how do I really know which one has carbon emissions?

  • save the world


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Order of Thoughts

  • Order calculated as the Standardized Median Rank Difference (SMRD)

  • SMRD scores vary from +1 (supportive thoughts first) to -1 (opposed thoughts first)


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Study 2: Number of Thoughts

  • Participants listed 2.7 thoughts (SD = 1.4)

  • No effect of party or frame


Study 2 order of thoughts l.jpg

Study 2: Order of Thoughts

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

Offset

Mean SMRD Score

0

Tax

-0.1

-0.2

-0.3

-0.4

-0.5

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 2 content of thoughts l.jpg

Study 2: Content of Thoughts

2

1.5

1

0.5

Offset

Mean Supporting Minus Opposed Thoughts

0

Tax

-0.5

-1

-1.5

-2

Democrat

Independent

Republican


Study 2 thought order and content l.jpg

Study 2: Thought Order and Content

  • Order & content highly correlated, r = .68, p < .001.


Study 2 mediation l.jpg

Study 2: Mediation

Frame x Party

β =0.82, p < .0001

Choice


Study 2 mediation49 l.jpg

Study 2: Mediation

Order &

Balance of

Thoughts

β =0.23, p < .05

β =0.87, p < .0001

β =0.84, p < .0001

β =1.43, p < .0001

Frame x Party

Choice


Study 2 mediation50 l.jpg

Study 2: Mediation

Order &

Balance of

Thoughts

β =0.23, p < .05

β =0.87, p < .0001

β =1.43, p < .0001

β =0.84, p < .0001

Frame x Party

β =0.82, p < .0001

Choice

(β = 0.59, p = .054)

Sobel Test, Order: z = 2.3, p < .05

Sobel Test, Content: z = 3.0, p < .001


Study 2 education l.jpg

Study 2: Education

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

Tax

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Product

0.5

Offset

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

2-Year Degree or Less

Bachelor's Degree

Graduate Degree


Study 2 discussion l.jpg

Study 2: Discussion

  • Replicates Study 1

  • As predicted by Query Theory, differential framing effect driven by a cognitive difference in the order & balance of thoughts supporting each option


Can you make republicans like taxes l.jpg

Can you make Republicans like taxes?

  • What if we manipulate the order of thoughts?


Study 3 results l.jpg

Study 3: Results

0.7

Offset

0.6

Tax

0.5

0.4

Proportion Choosing the Costlier Ticket

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

First Thoughts

Second Thoughts


Future directions l.jpg

Future Directions

  • Consequential choices

  • Hot-button word for Democrats?


Implications l.jpg

Implications

  • Message framing may mean different things to different people

  • Order in which people consider new information is important


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Thanks to...

  • My co-authors, Elke & Eric

  • The National Science Foundation, SES-03455840 and SES-0352062

  • The National Institute on Aging, 5R01AG027934-02

  • The CRED and PAM labs


Thank you l.jpg

Thank You!!!


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A Dirty Word Or A Dirty World?

Attribute Framing, Politics, and Query Theory

David Hardisty, Eric Johnson & Elke Weber

Columbia University

NSF SES-03455840 & SES-0352062

NIA 5R01AG027934-02


References l.jpg

References

Braun, K. A., Gaeth, G. J. & Levin, I. P. (1997). Framing effects with differential impact: The role of attribute salience. Advances in Consumer Research, 24, 405-411.

Dunlap, R. E., Van Liere, K. D., Mertig, A. G. & Jones, R. E. (2000). Measuring endorsement of the new ecological paradigm: A revised nep scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 425-442.

Levin, I. P. & Gaeth, G. J. (1988). Framing of attribute information before and after consuming the product. . Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 374-378.

Marteau, T. M. (1980). Framing of information: Its influence upon decisions of doctors and patients. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 89-94.

McNeil, B. J., Pauker, S. G., Sox, H. C. & Tversky, A. (1982). On the elicitation of preferences for alternative therapies. New England Journal of Medicine, 306, 1259-1262.

Morris, M. W., Carranza, E. & Fox, C. R. (In Press). Activating conservative political identities induces "Conservative" Financial decisions. Psychological Science.

Johnson, E. J., Haubl, G. & Keinan, A. (2007). Aspects of endowment: A query theory of value. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33, 461-474.

Jost, J. T. (2006). The end of ideology. American Psychologist, 61, 651-670.

Watson, D., Clark, A. L. & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063-1070.

Weber, E. U., Johnson, E. J., Milch, K. F., Chang, H., Brodscholl, J. C. & Goldstein, D. G. (2007). Asymmetric discounting in intertemporal choice. Psychological Science, 18, 516-523.


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Study 1 Fee Description

The following questions will ask you to choose between two products, one of which includes paying for carbon emissions. As you may know, carbon dioxide emissions are produced by many human activities, such as driving, flying, or using electricity. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international panel of credible scientists who study the issue, these carbon emissions contribute to global warming. The carbon you produce can be balanced out through measures such as planting trees, which absorb carbon, or funding alternative energy sources, which reduces reliance on polluting energy sources such as coal. The goal of a carbon tax, which may or may not be mandatory, is therefore to fund these efforts and ensure that the price of an activity reflects the true cost to society. [The goal of a carbon offset, which may or may not be mandatory, is therefore to make an activity carbon neutral -- meaning that there is no net contribution to global warming.]We would like you to tell us your preference for products in which one may address the issue, removing the amount of carbon that you would contribute by using the product. We are interested in your opinions, that is your best guess of what you would do if you really faced these choices. Note that all prices and costs in the following questions are actual, real world prices and costs.


Study 2 fee description l.jpg

Study 2 Fee Description

The following questions will ask you to choose between two products, both of which cause some carbon emissions, but only one of which includes payment for compensating those emissions. As you may know, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are produced by many human activities, such as driving, flying, or using electricity. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international panel of credible scientists who study the issue, these carbon emissions contribute to global warming. The carbon you produce can be balanced out through measures such as funding alternative energy sources (which reduces reliance on polluting energy sources such as coal), or carbon sequestration (which traps greenhouse gases so they do not enter the atmosphere). The goal of a carbon tax [offset] is therefore to fund these activities and ensure that the cost of an activity reflects its true cost to society. Policymakers are considering a mandatory carbon tax [offset] program which would raise the cost of certain products and services but make these activities carbon neutral through reputable measures such as those described above. We would like you to tell us your preferences for products which do or do not include a carbon tax [offset]. We are interested in your opinions, that is your best guess of what you would do if you really faced these choices. Note that all prices and costs in the following questions are actual, real world prices and costs.


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Computing Order of Thoughts

  • Order calculated as the Standardized Median Rank Difference (SMRD)

  • SMRD = 2(MRo–MRs)/n

  • MRo = median rank of aspects opposed to the more expensive option in the list of aspects

  • MRs = median rank of aspects supporting the less expensive option in the list of aspects

  • n = total number of aspects listed

  • SMRD scores vary from +1 (supportive thoughts first) to -1 (opposed thoughts first)


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