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"Mirror mirror on the wall ... who is the most partisan of all?!" MAPKIA Episode No. 978!

Hey, everybody, I think you know what it's time for . . . .

That’s right-- another episode of Macau's favorite game show...: "Make a prediction, know it all!," or "MAPKIA!"!

To get the technicalities out of the way, here's the posting of the "official statement of contest terms & conditions,"  as mandated by the Gaming Commission:

I, the host, will identify an empirical question -- or perhaps a set of related questions -- that can be answered with CCP data. Then, you, the players, will make predictions and explain the basis for them. The answer will be posted "tomorrow." The first contestant who makes the right prediction will win a really cool CCP prize (like maybe this or possibly some other equally cool thing), so long as the prediction rests on a cogent theoretical foundation. (Cogency will be judged, of course, by a panel of experts.)

Okay, this is a tricky one!

It’s going to take (a) a Feynmanite/Selbstian level of analytical thought, (b) a Fredrickian resistance to the seductive tug of WEKS, plus (c) a Barry-Bonds-sized dose of political-psychology HGH (& yes former Freud expert & current stats legend Andrew Gelman and Josh " 'Hot Hand Fallay' Fallacy" Miller both remain eligible for this MAPKIA pending their appeals for testing positive in the aftermath of their stunning post “CCP-APPC Political Polarization IQ Test”™ victories).

Let’s start by creating a “political partisanship index.”  The recipe for that is as follows:

  1. Take a left-right political outlook scale formed by standardizing the sum of the sums of responses to conventional 7-point political-party identification and 5-point liberal-conservative ideology survey items. A very nice feature of this approach when one uses it with a nationally representative sample is that “0” is “moderate Independent,” while -1 and +1 SD are “liberal Democrat” and “conservative Republican,” respectively. Scores in the vicinity of -1.8 and +1.8 will be “Extremely liberal, Strong Democrat” and “Extremely conservative, Strong Republican,” respectively. In case you’ve forgotten how nicely this simple scale performs in picking in partisan polarization on contested issues, check out the policy-polarization figure below or watch a re-run of the wildly popular episode on the “CCP-APPC PPQ IQ Test”™).

  2. Then take the absolute value of the scores on this Left_right scale. The result is a “Partisanship Index” (PI), one that registers the intensity of one’s left-right outlooks without regard to their valence. Thus, if one is either a “liberal Democrat” or a “conservative Republican,” one gets a PI score of “1.0.” If one is either an “Extremely liberal, Strong Democrat” and “Exremely conservative, Strong Republican,” one gets a PI score of 1.8. A milqetoast politically sissy who is a “moderate Independent” will get a score of “0.”

Okay, got that?  Good. (If you are curious for what the relationshop between Left_right and PI looks like without smoothing--and why the intercept for zero on y axis is slightly above zero--good for you! Click here).

Now here is the MAPKIA question:

What is the profile of a “super partisan”? On the basis of characteristics like (a) gender, (b) race, (c) income, (d) education, (e) science comprehension (measured by OSI), (f) science curiosity (measured with SCS), (g) religiosity, (h) cultural worldivews (measured with the CCW scales) etc. or appropriate combinations thereof, who is the most partisan “type” of person (i.e., gets the highest PI score) in U.S. society????

You know the rules: don’t just gesture toward an answer in some vague discursive way; be specific, both about what your conjecture and why, and tell me how to test it using the sort of data that typically appears in a CCP data set.

Realize that basically the question is, What's the relationship between the specified characteristics and partisanship? If you want to specificy simple correlations between partisanship and one or more of these attributes or (better still)  combinations of them, that's fine!

But if you have some more clever way to specify how the characteristics should be combined into some latent-variable "identity" variable or how the relationship between the characteristics (individually or in combination) should be related to the Partisanship index (in that regard, you might want to check out "yesterday's" post on how science curiosity and science comprehension relate to each other), go for it!

Now, an important proviso: Do not tell me to just jam every one of these characteristics onto the right hand side of a goddam linear regression and “see what comes out statistically significant.”  The reason  is that the results of such an analysis will be gibberish. 

Actually, the R2  will be fine & might be interesting if you want to get an idea of the the upper limit of the possibilities for explaining PI. But the parameter estimates will be meaningless in relation to our task, which is to identify the sorts of real-world people who are super partisans. 

And with that . . . mark, get set, MAPKIA! 

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Reader Comments (8)

Ooh! Oooh! I'll make a prediction!

I predict that the most partisan people are the ones who are happiest to hate.

Specifically, I predict that if you were to do a principal-components regression on the worldview items in the OSI 2.0 dataset, the partisanship index PI should load heavily on the PC on which the "chr" item in the OSI 2.0 codebook loads most heavily; that is to say, the strongest partisans will disagree with the idea that letting yourself be convinced by an opposing argument is a sign of good character.

I predict that the "chr" PC signal will be stronger than any of gender, age, and education.

July 27, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon


Nice. That's one of Baron's "actively open minded" thinking items.

Would you not use the entire scale to check your prediction?

Plus you can check it yourself w/ the OSI data! But for sure I will.

p.s. Every watch "Welcome Back, Kotter"?

July 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I think that Dypoon is off to a good start. Cultural or subcultural variances in acceptance of attributes of contentiousness would seem to be what might count as "superpartisan". Or, as Dypoon put it, "happiest to hate". But that attribute might not correlate well with taking policy extremes. People at the extremes might be the " milquetoast politically sissy " types, responding to questions with either a "Bless Their Hearts" or "Dude, Whatever".

Which gets to my repeated, but now more emphatic protest that the left-right scale is making less and less sense all the time. What is the intensity of one's left-right outlook? In a world in which Bernie Sanders has re-declared as an Independent, and Donald Trump is whatever he says he is at any given moment, how can you get the rest of the public to fall onto your line? Some fundamental something is missing. IMHO that is the message of the Brexit vote in Britain. Hopefully we in the US can get a better handle on this before November.

Meanwhile, I am starting to read "The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature" by Scott Atran and Douglas Medin. Medin is a Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern. Scott Atran is not only Director of Research, ARTIS Research and Risk Modeling; Research Director in Anthropology at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, France. He is also Visiting Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan and Residential Scholar in Sociology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City AND also Co-Founder, Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, University of Oxford. I like that: a center for resolution of intractable conflicts. Can it eliminate strong partisanship? The summary for the introduction notes that "researchers may need to integrate questions about the structure of biological cognition with systemic analysis of how knowledge is linked to action in diverse ecological or cultural contexts". But I snuck ahead to the final conclusion which ends with the idea that "For research in culture and cognition to be effective in addressing these issues requires a willingness to cross ACADEMIA'S cultural borders and perhaps break some down. Which now sound like an elitist and culturally isolated vision to me. But I'll see what the middle of the book is like.

I"ll procrastinate on MAPKIA for now.

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis


c'mon! you can't win if you don't play!

Your point on left/right is well taken.

So make a non-left/right prediction!

August 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I am cogitating on this.

August 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

I read an interesting article this morning analyzing the reason that large corporations such as Google are sitting on giant wads of cash, even though there is no financial incentive such as high interest rates for doing so. The conclusion was that the corporations believe that we may be on the crux of massive change. That technologies are about to emerge that will be significant. And they are just sitting there waiting to spot these before investing. Either that or they believe that we are about to fall off a cliff and they need to maintain the cash to sustain operations and weather the coming storm.

I think that this has to do with the problems here in defining a topography for the map of political and cultural values. We are at the crux of a big cultural change. Something like the Industrial Revolution. And it also explains why I don't think that there is a good definition here for a left/right political scale or what a "Super Partisan" is or might be.

In the meantime, I think propose that you use the available data to evaluate your narrowly defined "science curiosity". This seems not to be about an innate appetite for investigatory science or possession of an inquiring mind, but rather an interest in being a consumer of what appear to be establishment science journalistic outputs. I note again that Science magazine is not open source, and thus the public has very little information regarding it.

In my opinion, your definition of science curiosity is too narrow to be called that:

"As conceptualized here, science curiosity is a general disposition, variable in intensity across persons, that reflects the motivation to seek out and consume scientific information for personal pleasure. "

It seems to me that we know that the liberal/Democratic -- conservative/Republican scale is not really linear, but rather an amalgam of varied constituent groups cobbled together in some harmony with one another. I think that what pops out as "science curiosity" by your measure may be a subset that happens to cross cut the left/right boundary.

What happens if you look at "science curiosity" with regards to income or education levels? I'm hypothesizing that this could be labeled as "highbrow" "egghead" elitist or intellectual cultural tastes.

After all, one of the big funders of PBS programming is a Koch brother.

August 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

I just got around to checking my predictions. I was wrong on just about all counts! For starters the single character trait that is most predictive of PI = abs(conservrepub) is the Weakling item, not the Chr item. The character traits predict less than age, education and gender, and all of Baron's items together, plus age, education, and gender, predict about 2% of the total variance.

Glad to get my basic R chops back, though.

August 4, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon


thanks for repoprt!

Unless you think the AOT is not a valid scale, it probably isn't a good idea to try to look at impact of particular items rather than the entire scale; any individual item is just a noisier approximation of whatever the scale as a whole measures.

Yes, you are letting the little cat out of the bag here!

I would have posted "my answer" by now but it's vacation time in Macau & so about 12 billion of our regular contestants on their annual summer casino retreats-- they all wrote in imploring me to wait...

On examining effect sizes... R^2 is certainly the obvious way to do it, I agree.

But what if we imagine that there is a critical threshold for partisanship & we want to know relative probibility that individuals w/ certain characteristics are at or above it? E.g., here & here. Yes, r = 0.14 sounds "small," but how does it affect odds that people w/ opposing characteristics will appear at crticial points in the distribution?

If you are using R, maybe you'd like to send us some beautiful pictures of your analyses using ggplot?

August 6, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

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