Kevin (Vin) Arceneaux is Professor of Political Science at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po Paris. He studies how people make political decisions, paying particular attention to the effects of psychological biases. He has published articles on the influence of partisan campaigns on voting behavior, the effects of predispositions on attitude formation, the role of human biology in explaining individual variation in predispositions, and experimental methodology. His most recent book, Taming Intuition: How Reflection Minimizes Partisan Reasoning and Promotes Democratic Accountability (2017, Cambridge University Press, co-authored with Ryan Vander Wielen), takes a closer look at why people vary in their ability to get beyond their biases and explores the implications for citizens’ ability to live up to the demands of democracy. It won the 2018 Robert E. Lane Best Book Award from the APSA Political Psychology section and was co-winner of the 2018 APSA Experimental Research section’s book award. His last book, Changing Minds or Changing Channels: Partisan News in an Age of Choice (2013, University of Chicago Press, co-authored with Martin Johnson), studies how people’s partisan biases shapes the influence of political media. It was co-winner of the 2014 Goldsmith Book Prize awarded by the Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy.
Ph.D. in Political Science, 2003
M.A. in Political Science, 2000
B.S. in Political Science, 1997
Texas Christian University
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My research agenda lies at the intersection of political psychology, political communication, and political behavior. I am especially interested in how the interaction between political messages and people’s intuitions — which partially reflect evolutionary and biological processes — shape opinions and, ultimately, behavior. Motivating my work is the commonplace concern that citizens are easily manipulated by advertising and slick messaging. The research undertaken by my collaborators and me suggests that while most people are not pliant dupes, many also deviate from the democratic ideal of an engaged, deeply informed, and fair-minded citizenry. Individuals possess predispositions, which constrain the influence of political messages disseminated through mass media and by campaigns. While predispositions may sometimes help people behave in ways that are consistent with the democratic ideal, they can also undermine it — especially when predispositions revolve around ingroup biases.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unparalleled global crisis. Yet, despite the grave adversity faced by citizens, incumbents around the world experienced a boost in popularity during the onset of the outbreak. In this study, we examine how the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in one country affected incumbent support in other countries. Specifically, we leverage the fact that the first country-wide lockdown on European soil, in Italy on 9 March 2020, happened during the fieldwork of surveys conducted in four other European countries, France, Germany, Poland and Spain. This allows us to examine how an event abroad that alerted citizens to an imminent crisis?prior to a similar domestic government response?influenced incumbent support. Our results indicate a crisis signal effect of Italy’s COVID-19 lockdown, as support for the incumbent increased domestically in other European countries after the lockdown. Importantly, these findings suggest that incumbents can benefit from a crisis unfolding in other countries, even when their own performance in response to the same crisis is not yet fully clear. They illustrate the importance of developments abroad for incumbent approval and the difficulty facing citizens seeking to disentangle performance signals from exogenous shocks.
People form political attitudes to serve psychological needs. Recent research shows that some individuals have a strong desire to incite chaos when they perceive themselves to be marginalized by society. These individuals tend to see chaos as a way to invert the power structure and gain social status in the process. Analysing data drawn from large-scale representative surveys conducted in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, we identify the prevalence of Need for Chaos across Anglo-Saxon societies. Using Latent Profile Analysis, we explore whether different subtypes underlie the uni-dimensional construct and find evidence that some people may be motivated to seek out chaos because they want to rebuild society, while others enjoy destruction for its own sake. We demonstrate that chaos-seekers are not a unified political group but a divergent set of malcontents. Multiple pathways can lead individuals to “want to watch the world burn.”
While there is growing interest in the relationship between pathogen‐avoidance motivations and partisanship, the extant findings remain contradictory and suffer from a number of methodological limitations related to measurement and internal and external validity. We address these limitations and marshal the most complete test to date of the relationship between the behavioral immune system and partisanship, as indexed by which party people identify with and vote for. Using a unique research design, including multiple well‐powered, nationally representative samples from the United States and Denmark collected in election and nonelection contexts, our study is the first to establish in cross‐national data a consistent, substantial, and replicable connection between deep‐seated pathogen‐avoidance motivations and socially conservative party preferences across multiple validated measures of individual differences in disgust sensitivity and using large representative samples. We explore the relative contribution of the pathogen‐avoidance model and sexual strategies for accounting for this relationship.
About a decade ago, a study documented that conservatives have stronger physiological responses to threatening stimuli than liberals…
Political Psychology, Psychophysiology
Political Communication, Political Psychology
Political Psychology, Political Communication
Political Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology
Congress, Elections, American Politics
Sensory bias of political behavior
My CV is available in PDF form.