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Blame and the Great Recession Chapter 6 in The Blame Game: How Citizens Attribute Responsibility for Political Outcomes Brad T. Gomez Florida State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Blame and the Great Recession Chapter 6 in The Blame Game: How Citizens Attribute Responsibility for Political Outcomes Brad T. Gomez Florida State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Blame and the Great Recession Chapter 6 in The Blame Game: How Citizens Attribute Responsibility for Political Outcomes Brad T. Gomez Florida State University J. Matthew Wilson Southern Methodist University

2 How do citizens attribute responsibility for socio-political outcomes?

3 How did citizens attribute blame for the financial crisis of 2007-2010? Who is most likely to be blamed for the crisis, and why? What causes some individuals to narrowly focus their blame while others assign blame diffusely? Theory of Heterogeneous Attribution Data: Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project (CCAP), November, 2008. Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), October, 2010.

4 Theory of Heterogeneous Attribution Citizens systematically vary in the way in which they attribute responsibility Political Sophistication – The individual’s “tendency to pay close attention to politics, to have ready at hand banks of information about it, to understand multiple arguments for and against particular issue positions, and to recognize interrelationships among those arguments” (Sniderman, Brody, and Tetlock 1991, 21).

5 Theory of Heterogeneous Attribution Low sophisticates tend to bring few attributional targets to bear and, when allocating responsibility amongst those targets, tend to concentrate blame (credit) to a single actor (typically, the most “obvious” actor/cause). High sophisticates tend to bring a larger number of attributional targets to bear and tend to allocate responsibility amongst those targets in diffuse ways.

6 The Car Doesn’t Start! Must Be a Dead Battery!

7 The Car Doesn’t Start! The battery The battery terminal cable connections The starter The alternator Bad spark plugs The fuel injection system Dampness inside the distributor cap A loose timing belt Low fuel Source: Deanna Sclar. 1999. Auto Repair For Dummies. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

8 Hypotheses Hypothesis 1: More sophisticated respondents should, on average, identify more targets as holding “at least some responsibility” for the financial crisis than their less sophisticated counterparts. Hypothesis 2: More sophisticated respondents should be more diffuse in their allocations of blame for the financial crisis, while less sophisticated respondents will be more concentrated.

9 Hypotheses Hypothesis 2a: More sophisticated respondents will ascribe less blame to the president than their less sophisticated counterparts. Hypothesis 2b: Less sophisticate respondents will assign a higher rate of blame to President Obama relative to President Bush than will high sophisticates (A Recency Bias). Hypothesis 2c: More sophisticated respondents will tend to assign less blame to their primary target, whoever that might be, than the less sophisticated.

10 Data 2008 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project, FSU Module 1,620 Respondents Political Sophistication is measured as a knowledge battery asking Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker), Dick Cheney (Vice President), Gordon Brown (British Prime Minister), and John Roberts (Chief Justice of the United States) 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, FSU Model 1,000 Respondents Political Sophistication is measured as a knowledge battery asking Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker), Joe Biden (Vice President), David Cameron (British Prime Minister), John Roberts (Chief Justice of the United States), Majority of U.S. House (Democrat) and Senate (Democrat)

11 2008 CCAP Study Please order the following groups in terms of who you think deserves the most blame by dragging them to the slots to the right. President Bush Wall Street financial institutions/banks Federal government regulators The Federal Reserve Democrats Republicans People/homeowners who borrowed too much Congress

12 FIGURE 6.1. Percentage of Survey Respondents Giving the Actor the Highest Rank of Blame, November, 2008. Data: Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project, 2007-2008 Panel Study (FSU Module), November Wave.

13 Independent Variables Estimate (S.E.) Δ Constant -.992*** (.205) Ideology (Liberal).156*** (.050) 0.16 Party ID (Democrat).199*** (.028) 0.30 Age.002 (.003) - 0.06 Gender (Female).085 (.097) 0.04 Race (Black).304** (.175) 0.02 Education -.126*** (.048) 0.07 Political Sophistication -.257** (.124) - 0.13 Log Likelihood-479.577 LR χ 2 180.21 (7)*** % Predicted Correctly78.02 % Reduction in Error0 N1410 TABLE 6.1. Probit Model of Ranking President George W. Bush as Primarily to Blame for the Financial Crisis, November, 2008. * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

14 2010 CCES Study Below is a list of actors who may or may not be responsible for the economic downturn experienced during the past few years. In your opinion, which of these actors holds at least some responsibility for the economic downturn? (Check all that apply) George W. BushGlobal Markets Barack ObamaTim Geithner The Federal ReserveCongress Home OwnersBill Clinton Wall St. BanksHenry Paulson

15 2010 CCES Study In each case, respondents were asked a follow-up question, in which they had to allocate a percentage of total responsibility (which could be 0%) to each actor that they had identified in the first stage (summing to 100%).

16 FIGURE 6.2. Number of Actors/Factors Blamed for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module).

17 TABLE 6.2. Event Count Model of Attributions of Blame for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. Independent Variables Estimate Robust S.E. Constant 1.187.075*** Ideology (Liberal) -.016.012 Party ID (Democrat) -.031.011*** Age -.001.001 Gender (Female) -.041.029* Race (Black) -.277.061*** Education -.014.010* Political Sophistication.729.064*** Log Pseudo-Likelihood-2079.85 Wald χ 2 (d.f.)299.59 (7)*** N986 Model Type:Poisson Poisson Goodness of Fit χ 2 (d.f.)932.95 (978) Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

18 FIGURE 6.3. Predicted Probability of Number of Attributions of Blame for Financial Crisis by Level of Political Sophistication, October, 2010. Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module).

19 FIGURE 6.4. Average Proportional Distribution of Blame for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). Note: Entries represent the average proportion of blame given to each actor by survey respondents.

20 TABLE 6.3. OLS Model of Diffusion of Attributions of Blame for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. Independent Variables Estimate Robust S.E. Constant.492.038*** Ideology (Liberal) -.002.007 Party ID (Democrat) -.014.006*** Age -.001.001 Gender (Female) -.010.015 Race (Black) -.133.031*** Education -.001.005 Political Sophistication.254.035*** F-test 21.93*** R 2.17 N986 Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

21 TABLE 6.4. OLS Models of Proportion of Blame Attributed to Presidents Bush and Obama for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. President George W. BushPresident Barack ObamaRatio of Obama to Bush Independent VariablesEstimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E. Constant.307.037***.127.030***7.654 2.810*** Ideology (Liberal).004.007-.008.006*-.083.575 Party ID (Democrat).061.006***-.037.005***- 2.997.505*** Age-.001.001.000***.140.048*** Gender (Female)-.003.015.017.011*.7391.122 Race (Black).141.035***-.012.016.3271.344 Education-.003.006-.013.004*** -1.171.416*** Political Sophistication-.135.036***-.057.026***- 5.5992.461** F-test 78.84*** 46.53*** 23.99*** R2R2.37.24.16 N986 Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

22 TABLE 6.4. OLS Models of Proportion of Blame Attributed to Presidents Bush and Obama for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. President George W. BushPresident Barack ObamaRatio of Obama to Bush Independent VariablesEstimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E. Constant.307.037***.127.030***7.654 2.810*** Ideology (Liberal).004.007-.008.006*-.083.575 Party ID (Democrat).061.006***-.037.005***- 2.997.505*** Age-.001.001.000***.140.048*** Gender (Female)-.003.015.017.011*.7391.122 Race (Black).141.035***-.012.016.3271.344 Education-.003.006-.013.004*** -1.171.416*** Political Sophistication-.135.036***-.057.026***- 5.5992.461** F-test 78.84*** 46.53*** 23.99*** R2R2.37.24.16 N986 Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

23 TABLE 6.4. OLS Models of Proportion of Blame Attributed to Presidents Bush and Obama for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. President George W. BushPresident Barack ObamaRatio of Obama to Bush Independent VariablesEstimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E. Constant.307.037***.127.030***7.654 2.810*** Ideology (Liberal).004.007-.008.006*-.083.575 Party ID (Democrat).061.006***-.037.005***- 2.997.505*** Age-.001.001.000***.140.048*** Gender (Female)-.003.015.017.011*.7391.122 Race (Black).141.035***-.012.016.3271.344 Education-.003.006-.013.004*** -1.171.416*** Political Sophistication-.135.036***-.057.026***- 5.5992.461** F-test 78.84*** 46.53*** 23.99*** R2R2.37.24.16 N986 Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

24 TABLE 6.4. OLS Models of Proportion of Blame Attributed to Presidents Bush and Obama for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. President George W. BushPresident Barack ObamaRatio of Obama to Bush Independent VariablesEstimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E.Estimate Robust S.E. Constant.307.037***.127.030***7.654 2.810*** Ideology (Liberal).004.007-.008.006*-.083.575 Party ID (Democrat).061.006***-.037.005***- 2.997.505*** Age-.001.001.000***.140.048*** Gender (Female)-.003.015.017.011*.7391.122 Race (Black).141.035***-.012.016.3271.344 Education-.003.006-.013.004*** -1.171.416*** Political Sophistication-.135.036***-.057.026***- 5.5992.461** F-test 78.84*** 46.53*** 23.99*** R2R2.37.24.16 N986 Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

25 TABLE 6.5. OLS Models of Proportion Blame Attributed to the Actor Held Most Responsible for Financial Crisis, October, 2010. Independent Variables Estimate Robust S.E. Constant.566.038*** Ideology (Liberal) -.001.006 Party ID (Democrat).016.006*** Age.001 Gender (Female).010.015 Race (Black).113.028*** Education.002.005 Political Sophistication -.200.034*** F-test 17.71*** R 2.13 N986 Data: Cooperation Congressional Election Study (CCES), 2010 (FSU Module). * p <.10 ** p <.05 *** p <.01, one-tailed test

26 Conclusions Citizens who are low in political sophistication tend to attribute responsibility in relatively simple ways. Citizens who are high in political sophistication tend to attribute political responsibility in functionally different and more complex ways. The cognitive processes that we outline in our Theory of Heterogeneous Attribution work well in explaining attributions of blame for the financial crisis.


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