How do microaggressions alter perceived electability?

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About This Project

Microaggressions are small yet biased oppressive statements. Studies prior to 1994 demonstrated that candidates' gender strongly influenced their perceived electability. While no studies demonstrated similar effects in the 2016 election, microaggressions might have influenced electoral outcome. We hypothesize that if more microaggressions are in a candidate’s description, then the candidate would be perceived as less electable because of microaggression’s subtle influence on decision making.

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What is the context of this research?

Throughout the evolution of American politics, outright oppressive language and behavior has adopted a more concealed form in microaggressions. Microaggressions are subtle oppressive statements or actions, which are often unintentional. Because of their subtlety, people can unintentionally let microaggressions dictate their choices. This can become prevalent in the 2020 elections given that microaggressions were suggested to have been prominent in the 2016 elections. The Democratic primary process has been noted as an exampleof how microaggressions influenced public perception, as many female candidates were labeled as "too weak to beat Trump" despite being equally or more qualified than their male counterparts.

What is the significance of this project?

This research mimics a situation that many Americans may find themselves in in less than 100 days: forming an opinion about a candidate while being dictated by microaggressions.

A racial microaggression tested in my survey is the preemptive assumption that a candidate of color is less qualified than their white counterpart. A gender microaggression tested in my survey is the bias that female candidates can be irrational or overemotional.

The participant will read two descriptions without microaggressions (the control groups), and two with microaggressions (the experimental groups). If they deem the candidates from the microaggressive descriptions to be less electable, then microaggressions evidently influenced the perceived electability.

What are the goals of the project?

The experiment will show participants four descriptions in total. In the first section, the participant will read two descriptions: one of a male candidate and one of a female candidate. The candidates' genders will be stated in the description. After reading each description, the participant will rate how electable they find the candidate on a scale from 1-5. The second section tests race rather than gender. The participant will read two descriptions: one of a white candidate and one of a non-white candidate. Then, they will rate how electable they find each individual candidate. This will all be administered through a survey distributed through MTurk. Around 500 people will be tested to produce statistically significant results if a correlation exists.

Budget

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Through MTurk, a platform where participants can take surveys posted on the site, I will distribute my survey to 500 eligible voters. The entirety of my budget is dedicated to paying these workers to take my survey. MTurk allows me to not only gather information in a short amount of time and in an efficient manner, but it also allows me to distribute my survey to all parts of the country. Given that this is a nationwide survey that is supposed to gauge a national election, equal representation among geographic location and ideologies is incredibly important. The participants of this survey should be reflective of their state, and using MTurk will allow this to actually happen.

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I am looking forward to seeing where this project goes, particularly in the current political climate!

Flag iconProject Timeline

The survey will be finalized by the end of September. It will be distributed through MTurk. The survey will ask questions about the perceived electability of hypothetical candidates. By the end of November, the data will be collected. December will be dedicated to analyzing the data, as well as drawing conclusions. In January, I will hopefully will be launching a campaign to educate the public on how internal biases influence their voting behavior.

Sep 30, 2020

Finish Gathering Data

Oct 01, 2020

Project Launched

Nov 01, 2020

Finish Analyzing Data

Jan 20, 2021

Start Campaign

Meet the Team

Laasya Gadiyaram
Laasya Gadiyaram

Laasya Gadiyaram

Hi! I'm Laasya and I'm going into the second year of my high school's research program. I've been looking forward to casting my first vote since the day that I learned what elections even were. Learning that even those who hold such a liberty still don't exercise it shocked me and made me want to gain a deeper understanding of the electoral process. Even in today's complex and compelling political landscape, voter turnout still isn't where it needs to be. By conducting research about voter behavior and the factors that influence it, I can learn about the inequity in American elections and how it can be stopped.

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