My current work is in the development and testing of a dual-process model of political beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. This model essentially makes the claim that all thinking, feeling, reasoning, and action has an automatic component as well as a conscious cognitive component. I am especially interested in the impact of implicit affect on political judgments and evaluations. This research is based on experiments employing an attitude-priming paradigm, which allows us to test three basic hypotheses:
- The primacy of affect, testing the notion that affective responses to strong attitudinal objects (political leaders, groups, and issues) enter into the judgment process before any cognitive considerations that consciously define the object.
- The automaticity of affect. Affective responses to political leaders, groups, and issues can be (and are typically) activated spontaneously, that is, triggered even if the individual is not consciously engaged in making an evaluation, and this immediate response – whether thought, feeling, or action – once triggered is carried through without conscious monitoring.
- The Affective Contagion Effect, where we show that unnoticed affectively congruent cues in the immediate environment (a smiley face) facilitates responding to liked candidates, groups, and issues, while such negative primes as a frowning face inhibit such responses. Taken together, these effects challenge virtually all our models of how citizens form and update their evaluations of political leaders, groups, and issues.
Lodge, Milton, and Charles S. Taber. The rationalizing voter. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Erisen, Cengiz, Milton Lodge, and Charles S. Taber. "Affective contagion in effortful political thinking." Political Psychology 35.2 (2014): 187-206.
Lodge, Milton, and Charles S. Taber. "The automaticity of affect for political leaders, groups, and issues: An experimental test of the hot cognition hypothesis." Political Psychology 26.3 (2005): 455-482.
Taber, Charles S., and Milton Lodge. "Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs." American Journal of Political Science 50.3 (2006): 755-769.
Lodge, Milton, Marco R. Steenbergen, and Shawn Brau. "The responsive voter: Campaign information and the dynamics of candidate evaluation." American Political Science Review 89.02 (1995): 309-326.
- Kim, Sung-youn, Charles S. Taber, and Milton Lodge. "A computational model of the citizen as motivated reasoner: Modeling the dynamics of the 2000 presidential election." Political Behavior 32.1 (2010): 1-28.
The Automatic Activation of Political Attitudes: A Psychophysiological Examination of the Hot Cognition Hypothesis. James P. Morris, Nancy K. Squires, Charles S. Taber, and Milton Lodge.