representation in politics

5 Recent Research Findings that Challenge Notions of Politics and Society

recent political researchOf the many things that go unreported in major news outlets, one of those things are the research findings from major universities. Granted, research does get coverage from time to time, especially if its proven that video games are good for you. And, granted, not all research coming out of a major university deserves press coverage. But, this doesn't mean that there are excellent studies and findings taking place that aren't worth talking about, or considering because they challenge traditionally held notions of politics and society. Here are five recent research findings from major universities across the globe that shed light into how our world, and our government, really works:

Anti-Muslim Bias Tracked in Mainstream Media

Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that organizations with negative messages about Muslims drowned out positive and moderate messaging in the mainstream media. Christopher Bail, an assistant professor of sociology who conducted the study, said that this emphasis by the mass media gave fringe organizations the chance to build networks and to raise funds. It also give little attention to public condemnations of terrorism of Muslims, even though the vast majority of organizations depict Muslims as peaceful, contributing members of our society.

Although the article doesn't expound upon the methodology, I suspect that plagiarism software was used for this research because the software makes it easy to track how many times a certain news release was posted, or copied, on another website. This methodology may also omit news articles that reference these news releases or use them as a source, but don't copy the text of the original release.

Remember the Lowe's Advertising Fiasco Over "All-American Muslim"?

Recent Examples of Anti-Muslim Bias in the Media

Women in U.S Congress Deliver More to Their Districts than Male Counterparts

Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as a man to be thought of as half as good. Luckily, that's not too difficult. - Charlotte Witton

Apparently, 2011 research from the University of Chicago proves Witton's words to be true in politics. In Congress, women outperform men in two main areas: sponsorship/co-sponsorship of legislation and obtaining federal discretionary spending for home districts. The authors don't go so far as to way that women are more innately talented in politics than men, as women who fill the seats of their deceased husbands do not outperform their male colleagues. They argue that the more discrimination a woman has to overcome to get elected, the more motivations and qualifications they need to win the election and to keep their seat in Washington. The researchers call this phenomenon the "Jackie (and Jill) Robinson Effect," where famed baseball player Jackie Robinson needed to be the absolute best to overcome the racial discrimination of his time.

Because of This, Our First Female President will Be AMAZING

Less than Half of Americans Think It's a Good Thing to Have More Women in Congress

Grandiose Narcissism Makes a Memorable President

What do Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy have in common (besides at one time being president of the United States)? They all have a distinct trait called grandiose narcissism.

Grandiose narcissism, as defined by research from Emory University, is an extroverted, self-aggrandizing, domineering, and flamboyant interpersonal style, and it's a personality style that's associated with greatness in the presidency. After all, the presidents listed as having this type of narcissism are the ones that are most often discussed and taught in history class. Few people know anything about Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, the two presidents who scored low ratings for grandiose narcissism. Although this type of narcissism makes a memorable president, it doesn't necessarily translate into a well-liked or an uncontroversial president, as grandiose narcissism is also associate with rule bending, cheating, and impeachment resolutions.

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The Least and Most Narcissistic Presidents, If You're Curious

Haiti's Poorer than Medieval England (If Medieval England Were Around Today

An annual salary of $400 (as expressed in 1990 international dollars) is commonly used as a measure of “bare bones subsistence.” It was previously believed that this figure was the average income in medieval England. However, new research from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom found that the average income for this time period was closer to $1000/year, since a majority of the population in that time period could afford a varied diet as well as the occasional luxuries. This new figure for average per capita income also means that England in the Middle Ages was wealthier than Haiti today, along with 12 other countries in Africa and Asia (still expressed in 1990 dollars). Haiti, according to 1990 dollars, has an average per capita income of $686/year.

The authors note that these figures do not consider income distribution, where many in medieval England still live a bare bones existence while others were far better off than a varied diet and occasional luxuries.

What Happened to Caring about Haiti After the Earthquake?

Just How Dark Were the Dark Ages? [Video]

Political TV Ads are Overrated, In a Sense

Political advertising is powerful; no one needed research from Penn State to prove that. However, that their research did find was that people tended to overestimate the impact these ads have on others, especially negative political ads. With positive political messaging, people thought the messaging had more of an impact on themselves than on others. Either way, the researchers concluded that the more political ads someone saw, positive or negative, the more likely that person was going to perceive that these ads were affecting people.

I read in Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America that although constituents hate political ads, especially negative ads, the messages of these ads still stick with viewers. Viewers recalled the messaging, particularly if they didn't like the messaging in the first place. Political ads may annoy us during the election season, but they aren't going anywhere anytime soon because they work.

Almost $1 Billion Were Spent on Political Ads in the 2012 Election

A Look at Political Ads from a More Recent Election