Academia’s American Flag Phobia

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Perhaps one reason that American flags are harder to find on campus than off is that university officials fear that exposure to Old Glory might inspire students to engage in extreme behavior—like voting for the GOP.

“We report that a brief exposure to the American flag led to a shift toward Republican beliefs, attitudes, and voting behavior among both Republican and Democratic participants, despite their overwhelming belief that exposure to the flag would not influence their behavior,” Travis J. Carter and Melissa J. Ferguson claimed in an article which appeared in Psychological Science in August. “In Experiment 1, which was conducted online during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, a single exposure to an American flag resulted in a significant increase in participants’ Republican voting intentions, voting behavior, political beliefs, and implicit and explicit attitudes, with some effects lasting 8 months after the exposure to the prime.”

“In Experiment 2, we replicated the findings more than a year into the current Democratic presidential term. These results constitute the first evidence that nonconscious priming effects from exposure to a national flag can bias the citizenry toward one political party and can have considerable durability.”

Carter is at the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Ferguson toils in the Department of Psychology at Cornell University.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

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