public opinion

Cross-posted at Reports from the Economic Front.

The Pew Research Center recently published a report titled “Pervasive Gloom About the World Economy.” The following two charts come from Chapter 4 which is called “The Causalities: Faith in Hard Work and Capitalism.”

The first suggests that the belief that hard work pays off remains strong in only a few countries: Pakistan (81%), the U.S. (77%), Tunisia (73%), Brazil (69%), India (67%) and Mexico (65%). The low scores in China, Germany, and Japan are worth noting. This is not to say that people everywhere are not working hard, just that many no longer believe there is a strong connection between their effort and outcome.

The second chart highlights the fact that growing numbers of people are losing faith in free market capitalism.  Despite mainstream claims that “there is no alternative,” a high percentage of people in many countries do not believe that the free market system makes people better off.

GlobeScan polled more than 12,000 adults across 23 countries about their attitudes towards economic inequality and, as the chart below reveals, the results were remarkably similar to those highlighted above.  In fact, as GlobeScan noted, “In 12 countries over 50% of people said they did not believe that the rich deserved their wealth.

It certainly seems that large numbers of people in many different countries are open to new ways of organizing economic activity.

Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front.

It seems so.

According to a Gallup poll, “Americans believe that one’s stature has a decided effect on a variety of important dimensions.”

More people would prefer to be taller than shorter:

People think that taller people have a greater likelihood of getting respect at work, and even getting promoted:

 

Via Geoffrey Arnold, at The Social Complex.  See also Arnold’s guest posts from The Social Complex introducing the concept of heightism as a gendered prejudice and discussing heightism (and other icky stuff) at Hooters.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey estimated that about 10% of the population was something other than straight (and then, as now, a much larger number have same sex experiences or attraction).  Today scholars believe that about 3.5% of the U.S. population identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, a considerably lower number.  Yet, a telling poll by Gallup shows that Americans wildly — wildly — overestimate the number of people who identify as non-heterosexual:

The table shows that more than a third of Americans believe that more than one out of every four people identifies as gay or lesbian.  Only 4% of Americans answered “less than 5%,” the correct answer.

Estimates varied by demographics and political leaning. Liberals were more likely to overestimate, as were younger people, women, Southerners, and people with less education and income:

Interestingly, these numbers are higher than in 2008, when Gallup asked a similar questions. In that poll, only a quarter of the respondents choose “more than 25%” and more than twice as many said that they had “no opinion.”

Gallup concludes: “…it is clear that America’s gay population — no matter the size — is becoming a larger part of America’s mainstream consciousness.”

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Americans were recently asked whether they believed that President Obama could do much to lower gas prices.  The answer was highly correlated with political party affiliation: 65% of Republicans said “yes,” while only33% of Democrats said the same.

In fact, the President has very little control over the price of gas.  According to the Washington Post:

Today’s oil prices are the product of years and decades of exploration, automobile design and ingrained consumer habits combined with political events in places such as Sudan and Libya, anxiety about possible conflict with Iran, and the energy aftershocks of last year’s earthquake in Japan.

An expert calls the idea that a President can substantially influence the oil market “preposterous.”

So, does this mean that Democrats are smarter about econo-geo-politics?

Nope. It just means a Democrat is in the White House.  The pollsters, WP/ABC News, asked the same question in 2006, during the Bush Administration.  That year 73% of Democrats gave President Bush some of the blame for gas prices; only 47% of Republicans did.

(Red = answered “yes” in 2006; Blue = answered “yes” in 2012)

Such switches, argues political scientist Brendan Nyhan, are typical.  NPRreports: “On a range of issues, partisans seem partial to their political loyalties over the facts. When those loyalties demand changing their views of the facts, he said, partisans seem willing to throw even consistency overboard.” Nyhan believes that the phenomenon might be related to “cognitive dissonance,” a sense of unease that comes from holding two incompatible beliefs at once.  If you like the President, in other words, it might be hard for you to also think that he could do something about gas prices, but isn’t.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

Hot enough for you?  Your answer might depend on who you’re voting for.

World views affect not just how we interpret what we see; these views influence what we actually experience.  That was the point of the previous post.

Do people who reject the idea global warming perceive the weather as being cooler?  Gallup just published the results of a poll that asked people if this winter was warmer than usual. Unfortunately, Gallup asked only for political affiliation, but it can stand as a rough proxy for ideas about global warming.  So the data are suggestive, not conclusive. But for what it’s worth, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say yes, it’s been a warm winter.  Some of the difference can be attributed to geography (Democrats living in places that had a much warmer winter than usual). But I suspect that at least part of the 11-point difference is political.

Republicans reject the idea that the world is getting warmer — that’s a question of science — but they also experience their own immediate environment as cooler, which is a matter of perception.

As the graph shows, Gallup then asked those who did think that the winter was unusually warm what they thought the cause was — global warming or just normal variation..  As you might expect, political affiliation made a difference.   Democrats were more than twice as likely as Republicans to cite global warming as the cause.

You might have heard that, after the birth of his daughter with Beyonce Knowles in January, Jay-Z has sworn off calling women “bitches.”His change of heart is illustrative of a trend among fathers documented by sociologists Emily Shafer and Neil Malhotra.  Their article measured the effect of a new baby’s sex on a parent’s gender ideology.  Their findings?  Men’s support for traditional gender roles weakens after they have a daughter; no similar result was documented for new mothers.

This first graph shows the average change in fathers’ attitudes before and after having a daughter and a son. The authors note that both men who have daughters (solid grey line) and those who have sons (black dotted line) show a decrease in support for traditional gender roles, but that men who have daughters show a much more steep decline in support.

This second graph shows the average change in mothers’ attitudes. Notice that mothers start off with a much lower average level of support for traditional gender roles than fathers and appears to decrease over time.  These changes, though, are not statistically significant. So this study offers no evidence mothers’ ideologies change the way fathers’ do.

Jay-Z, then, may be experiencing what a lot of fathers experience: a change in their thinking about women inspired by looking into the eyes of their own baby daughter.

Cite: Shafer, Emily and Neil Malhotra. 2011. The Effect of a Child’s Sex on Support for Traditional Gender Roles. Social Forces 50, 1: 209-222.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

In the video below, borrowed from Geoffrey Arnold’s blog on heightism, people on the street in New York are asked to evaluate the likely occupational and class status of two men: one short, one tall.  The results are striking (if also edited and non-random, but still):

See also Arnold’s guest posts introducing the concept of heightism as a gendered prejudice and discussing heightism (and other icky stuff) at Hooters.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Cross-posted at Montclair SocioBlog.

We’ve known for a long time that surveys are often very bad at predicting behavior.  To take the example that  Malcom Gladwell uses, if you ask Americans what kind of coffee they want,  most will say “a dark, rich, hearty roast.”  But what they actually prefer to drink is “milky, weak coffee.”

Something that sounds good in the abstract turnsout to be different from the stuff you actually have to drink.

Election polls usually have better luck since indicating your choice to a voting machine isn’t all that different from speaking that choice to a pollster.  But political preference polls as well can run into that abstract-vs.-actual problem.

Real Clear Politics recently printed some poll results that were anything but real clear.  RCP looked at polls matching Obama against the various Republican candidates.  In every case, if you use the average results of the different polls, Obama comes out on top. But in polls that matched Obama against “a Republican,” the Republican wins.

The graph shows only the average of the polls.  RCP also provides the results of the various polls (CNN, Rasmussen, ABCl, etc.)

Apparently, the best strategy for the GOP is nominate a candidate but not tell anyone who it is.