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A Dirty Word Or A Dirty World?

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  1. 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

  2. TAX

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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)

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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)

  10. 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?

  11. 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)

  12. Study 1: Methods • Environmental attitudes questionnaire (NEPr, Dunlap et al., 2000) • Demographic questions, including political affiliation

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. Study 1: Support for Regulation 3 2 1 Offset Mean Support for Regulation 0 Tax -1 -2 -3 Democrat Independent Republican

  22. What About Environmental Attitudes? 16 14 12 10 Mean NEPr 8 6 4 2 0 Democrat Independent Republican

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. Alternative Hypothesis: Affect • Perhaps Republicans have a negative affective reaction to the word tax, which changes their mood and alters their processing and choices

  30. Study 2: Participants • 373 US Residents • 39% Democrats, 21% Republicans, 24% Independents, 16% none of the above

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. Study 2: Positive Affect 4 3.5 3 Offset Mean Positive Affect 2.5 Tax 2 1.5 1 Democrat Independent Republican

  35. Study 2: Negative Affect 4 3.5 3 Offset Mean Negative Affect 2.5 Tax 2 1.5 1 Democrat Independent Republican

  36. 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

  37. Thought Examples • we are taxed too much • I don't want to pay additional tax

  38. 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

  39. Thought Examples • tree huggers • how do I really know which one has carbon emissions? • save the world

  40. 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)

  41. Study 2: Number of Thoughts • Participants listed 2.7 thoughts (SD = 1.4) • No effect of party or frame

  42. 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

  43. 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

  44. Study 2: Thought Order and Content • Order & content highly correlated, r = .68, p < .001.

  45. Study 2: Mediation Frame x Party β =0.82, p < .0001 Choice

  46. 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

  47. 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