Mark Peffley: Research Page
Selected Recent Publications and Papers
The Impact of Persistent Terrorism on Political Tolerance: Israel, 1980 to 2011, (with Marc Hutchison and Michal Shamir), forthcoming in American Political Science Review.
How do persistent terrorist attacks influence political tolerance, a willingness to extend basic liberties to one’s enemies? Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have produced a number of valuable insights into how citizens respond to singular, massive attacks like 9/11. But they are less useful for evaluating how chronic and persistent terrorist attacks erode support for democratic values over the long haul. Our study focuses on political tolerance levels in Israel across a turbulent thirty-year period, from 1980 to 2011, which allows us to distinguish the short-term impact of hundreds of terrorist attacks from the long-term influence of democratic longevity on political tolerance. We find that the corrosive influence of terrorism on political tolerance is much more powerful among Israelis who identify with the Right, who have also become much more sensitive to terrorism over time. We discuss the implications of our findings for other democracies under threat from terrorism.
Justice in America: The
Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites, (with Jon
Hurwitz). Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Abstract: Although there exists a large and well-documented “race gap” between whites and blacks in their support for the death penalty, we know relatively little about the nature of these differences and how the races respond to various arguments against the penalty. To explore such differences, we embedded an experiment in a national survey in which respondents are randomly assigned to one of several argument conditions. We find that African-Americans are more responsive to appeals that are both racial (i.e., the death penalty is unfair because most of the people who are executed are black) and nonracial (i.e., too many innocent people are being executed) than are whites, who are highly resistant to persuasion and, in the case of the racial argument, actually become more supportive of the death penalty upon learning that it discriminates against blacks. These inter-racial differences in responsiveness to arguments against the death penalty can be explained, in part, by the degree to which people attribute the causes of black criminality to either dispositional or systemic forces (i.e., the racial biases of the criminal justice system).
Abstract: We examine the huge
racial divide in citizens’ general beliefs about the fairness of the
criminal justice system, focusing on the political consequences of
these beliefs for shaping diverging interpretations of police behavior.
Predictably, most blacks believe the system to be unfair and most whites
believe the opposite. More importantly, these beliefs influence the interpretation
of events quite differently. African Americans who view the system as unfair
are much more suspicious of the police in confrontations with black
civilians. Fairness for whites, however, has fewer racial connotations; they
naively interpret the confrontations disregarding civilian race. Still,
whites holding antiblack stereotypes are much more
sympathetic to the police in their confrontations with black civilians.
Abstract: To date, little is known about the precise impact of racially coded words and phrases. Instead, most of what we know about racialized messages comes from studies focusing on pictorial racial cues (e.g., the infamous “Willie Horton” ad) or messages with an extensive textual narrative laced with implicit racial cues. Because in a “post-Horton” era strategic use of racially coded words will often be far more subtle than those explored in past studies, we investigate the power of a single phrase believed by many to carry strong racial connotations: “inner-city.” We do so by embedding an experiment in a national survey of whites, where a random half of respondents was asked whether they support spending money for prisons (versus anti-poverty programs) to lock up “violent criminals,” while the other half was asked about “violent inner city criminals.” Consistent with the literature on issue framing, we find that whites’ racial attitudes (e.g., racial stereotypes) were much more important in shaping preferences for punitive policies when they receive the racially-coded, inner city question. Our results demonstrate how easy it is to continue “playing the race card” in the post-Willie Horton era, as well as some of the limits of such framing effects among whites with more positive racial attitudes.
“Democratization and Political Tolerance in Seventeen Countries: A Multi-level Model of Democratic Learning,” (with Robert Rohrschneider). Political Research Quarterly, 56(3), September, 2003, 243-257.
Abstract: Research on mass support for democracies shows that popular support for democratic norms is at a historic high. At the same time, research on political tolerance draws considerably bleaker conclusions about the democratic capacity of mass publics. We attempt to synthesize the essential lessons of these two literatures into a general model of democratic learning which argues that exposure to the rough-and-tumble of democratic politics should enhance political tolerance. We provide a test of the model using multilevel data from a diverse set of 17 countries. At the macro-level, we find, consistent with our theory, that: (1) political tolerance is greater in stable democracies that have endured over time (the longer the better), independent of a nation’s socioeconomic development; and (2) that federal systems increase levels of tolerance, as well. At the micro-level, we find that democratic activism, or using civil liberties, enhances political tolerance, independent of a host of other individual-level predictors. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for studies of democratization and political tolerance.