*If you have problems accessing any of the articles below, please do not hesitate to contact me!
- Gonzalez, Frank J., Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Hibbing (2016). “No Longer Beyond Our Scope”: The Biological Underpinnings of Political Attitudes. In A. J. Berinsky (Ed.), New Directions in Public Opinion (2nd Edition) (pp. 186-204). New York, NY: Routledge.
- New Directions in Public Opinion offers overviews of state of the art research being done on public opinion and political psychology, and is appropriate for both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses. In the 2nd edition, Kevin Smith, John Hibbing, and I introduce the topic of “Biology and Politics” and summarize where the literature in the field stands as well as how it might shape understandings of public opinion broadly.
- Mills, Mark, Frank J. Gonzalez, Karl Giuseffi, Benjamin Sievert, John R. Hibbing, Kevin B. Smith, and Michael Dodd (2016). Political Conservatism Predicts Asymmetries in Emotional Scene Memory, Behavioural Brain Research, 306, 84-90.
- Variation in political ideology has been linked to differences in attention to and processing of emotional stimuli, with stronger responses to negative versus positive stimuli (negativity bias) the more politically conservative one is. As memory is enhanced by attention, such findings predict that memory for negative versus positive stimuli should similarly be enhanced the more conservative one is. The present study tests this prediction by having participants study 120 positive, negative, and neutral scenes in preparation for a subsequent memory test. On the memory test, the same 120 scenes were presented along with 120 new scenes and participants were to respond whether a scene was old or new. Results on the memory test showed that negative scenes were more likely to be remembered than positive scenes, though, this was true only for political conservatives. That is, a larger negativity bias was found the more conservative one was. The effect was sizeable, explaining 45% of the variance across subjects in the effect of emotion. These findings demonstrate that the relationship between political ideology and asymmetries in emotion processing extend to memory and, furthermore, suggest that exploring the extent to which subject variation in interactions among emotion, attention, and memory is predicted by conservatism may provide new insights into theories of political ideology.\
- Neiman, Jayme L., Frank J. Gonzalez, Kevin Wilkinson, Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Hibbing (2016). Speaking Different Languages or Reading from the Same Script? Value-Based Word Usage of Democratic and Republican Politicians. Political Communication, 33(2), 212-240.
- Words are believed to be indicators of the values that are important to politicians and an impressive amount of empirical research has analyzed variations in language use. While it is generally accepted that there are value differences between Democrats and Republicans, the extent to which these differences are reflected in word usage has been theorized but is largely untested. The connection between values and language is, theoretically, not limited just to politicians, but should be especially evident among politicians as representatives of existing ideological poles. In this article, we examine elite rhetoric through the lens of four value-centered theoretical frameworks (Lakoff’s Parenting Styles model, Moral Foundations Theory, Schwartz’s Values Theory, and Motivated Social Cognition Theory). Contrary to the expectations posited by these four theories, we find little reliable evidence of value-related language differences between Democratic and Republican politicians. Our findings suggest that, at least when it comes to elite rhetoric, widely accepted theoretical claims about the value-based nature of political language and political differences are not consistently supported by empirical analysis.
- Deppe, Kristen, Frank J. Gonzalez, Jayme L. Neiman, Jackson Pahlke, Carly Jacobs, Kevin B. Smith, and John R. Hibbing (2015). Reflective Liberals and Intuitive Conservatives: A Look at the Cognitive Reflection Test and Ideology. Judgment and Decision Making, 10(4), 314-331.
- Prior research finds that liberals and conservatives process information differently. Predispositions toward intuitive versus reflective thinking may help explain this individual level variation. There have been few direct tests of this hypothesis and the results from the handful of studies that do exist are contradictory. Here we report the results of a series of studies using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) to investigate inclinations to be reflective and political orientation. We find a relationship between thinking style and political orientation and that these effects are particularly concentrated on social attitudes. We also find it harder to manipulate intuitive and reflective thinking than a number of prominent studies suggest. Priming manipulations used to induce reflection and intuition in published articles repeatedly fail in our studies. We conclude that conservatives—more specifically, social conservatives—tend to be dispositionally less reflective, social liberals tend to be dispositionally more reflective, and that the relationship between reflection and intuition and political attitudes may be more resistant to easy manipulation than existing research would suggest.
- Wals, Sergio, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Frank J. Gonzalez, and Tess Gosda (2015). Love Thy Neighbor? Perceptions of Foreigners and Support for Transnational Policies. Political Research Quarterly, 68(3), 537-551.
- This study assesses the extent to which individual levels of trust in foreigners relate to preferences about regional transnational policies. We use a nationally representative survey from Mexico (2003), an emerging democracy with relatively high levels of nationalism and several multinational trade agreements. We argue that clarifying the target of social trust is essential for understanding the attitudes of citizens of less powerful countries toward the international policy realm. Statistical analysis strongly suggests that in fact trust in foreigners, above generalized trust, is key to understanding such attitudes. Our results indicate that trust in foreigners among Mexican respondents is positively associated with support for open immigration policies, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and political union with the United States.
Federal Grants and Other Awards
- National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (NSF-SES-1560432); $22,575 (January 2016)
- Project Title: “Doctoral Dissertation Research: Explaining Public Opposition to Government Assistance Programs”
- Faculty Advisor: Elizabeth Theiss-Morse
Working Papers/Papers Under Review
- *Gonzalez, Frank J. “Clarifying the Group-Based and Principled Foundations of Opposition to Race-Targeted Policies.”
- *Gonzalez, Frank J. “Doublethinking Race and Politics: Implicit Ambivalence and the Relationship between Implicit Attitudes, Ideology and Political Cognition.”
- *Gonzalez, Frank J. and Akua Dawes. “Principles, Prejudice, or System Justification? Rethinking the Foundations of Opposition to Race-Targeted Policies.”
- *Gonzalez, Frank J., Johnathan C. Peterson, and Stephen Schneider. “(Don’t) Bring Me Your Sick: The Effects of Disease Outbreak on Support for Foreign Aid.”
- Haas, Ingrid J., Melissa N. Baker (University of California – Merced), and Frank J. Gonzalez. “Who Can Deviate from the Party Line? Political Ideology Moderates Evaluation of Incongruent Policy Positions in Insula and Anterior Cingulate Cortex.”
- Muhlberger, Peter, Frank J. Gonzalez, Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Myiah J. Hutchens (Washington State University), and Alan J. Tomkins. “Polarization via Deliberation: Modeling Attitudinal Poles and their Influence during Group Discussions.”
I have been fortunate to become involved with a wide range of research in political science, psychology, communications, and neuroscience. These research agendas have exposed me to many fascinating literatures and led me to become interested in finding answers to an array of questions, all related to the causes and consequences of how people think about politics and society.
How do “gut-level” group/racial biases influence political attitudes in light of nonracial ideological principles and social norms of egalitarianism? Can people not control their prejudices?
What explains the role of prejudice in driving attitudes toward government assistance? Are people favoring their ingroup or justifying the status quo (and thus even groups at “the bottom” will oppose assistance)? Or, are people simply valuing individualistic principles like work ethic and self-reliance?
Why do people feel they way they do about income inequality? Is it more about stereotypes and feelings toward the rich and the poor, or is it about the system more broadly?
What explains how people would want income inequality to be addressed, if at all? Should we provide more government assistance programs, increase taxes on the wealthy, raise the minimum wage, or restructure the entire system?
More broadly, what makes people support “the system”? Why do some people feel the need to preserve hierarchy, order, and often inequality while others do not?
What causes people to support globalizing policies like international trade, lenient immigration laws, humanitarian aid, or even cultural amalgamation between countries?
How are people’s attitudes toward global politics and transnational policies influenced by basic, evolutionary mechanisms?
What are the personality and contextual factors that encourage open-minded deliberation between citizens?
Are citizens capable of deliberating “rationally” about science, or will predispositions and cognitive biases reign? Do people learn anything about scientific issues through deliberation?
What are the ramifications of discussing issues of science in groups? Are several heads better than one, or do people double down on their preexisting opinions? Or, do people conform to their group, causing polarization?
Are there biological, genetic, and/or neural factors behind one’s ideology?
Are liberals and conservatives innately different in how they evaluate groups?
How does the presence of extreme political candidates on the electoral scene influence perceptions of other candidates?
How does vitriolic, uncivil, and vilifying language influence attitudes toward political candidates and trust in government? Does it matter whether the uncivil language is coming from your own candidate or one from another party?
What sorts of information do people seek when evaluating political candidates? Are people more likely to seek political or non-political information, and which type of information influences attitudes toward candidates most?