Priming State Instability: A Pilot Study

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Hall, Larissa; Schwab, Nicholas
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Research suggests that increased social, political, and ecological threats result in a stronger adherence to strict norms and less tolerance of deviation in order to better coordinate social behavior under such threats (Gelfand et al., 2011). The current study focuses on reduced political control and its affects on the adherence to social norms. In a pilot study, participants recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk read one of two fabricated news articles and graphs: one set describing the United States as corrupt and the other set describing the United States as relatively free of corruption. Corruption was used because it is likely that awareness of corruption would induce a sense of state instability, or a political threat. Participants then answered questions regarding their beliefs about corruption in the United States. It is expected that those who read the article and see the graph depicting the United States as corrupt will indicate that the United States is more corrupt, while those who view the article and graph depicting the United States as uncorrupt will see the United States as uncorrupt. The results of this pilot study will be used to validate the primes as a measure of perception of corruption. If the primes are successful, they will be used as part of a larger study to test political threats and how these threats affect adherence to social norms.