The Effect of Metaphoric Framing on Attitudes toward Diversity Policies in the Face of Racial Shift
Abstract: The United States is undergoing a series of transitions both in
politics and its demographic composition. Recent research suggests that these demographic
shifts may influence attitudes towards public policies. Additionally, public policies are
often presented using polarizing figurative language, particularly metaphors, that may sway
voter attitudes more than the actual parameters of... read morethese policies. Understanding how these
factors may influence public opinion is critical to ensuring that voters can make informed
choices. Through four experiments, this dissertation investigates whether the metaphoric
framings used to describe diversity policies influence political attitudes, particularly
when individuals are made aware of the imminent demographic changes. Experiments 1 and 2
explored whether using positive-sum or zero-sum metaphors for affirmative action would
moderate the effects of racial shift information on attitudes toward diversity polices, and
this hypothesis was partially supported. Experiment 3 asked participants to evaluate a
university applicant while considering the university's positive-sum or zero-sum approach
to affirmative action and found some evidence that these metaphorical framings affected
perceptions of applicant merit, but not quality. Finally, Experiment 4 attempted to reduce
the susceptibility of participants to metaphorical framings by informing them that
metaphors could influence their attitudes. This intervention was unsuccessful and
alternatives are discussed. Overall, this dissertation adds to the body of research
examining the influence of political metaphors on attitudes toward public policies while
accounting for changes that may be tied to demographic and societal
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Samuel Sommers.
Committee: Maureen Craig, Keith Maddox, and Deborah Schildkraut.
Keyword: Psychology.read less