Peer-Reviewed Publications

Wheeler, N. E., Allidina, S., Long, E. U., Schneider, S., Haas, I. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2020). Ideology and predictive processing: Coordination, bias, and polarization in socially constrained error minimization. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 34, 192-198.

Recent models of cognition suggest that the brain may implement predictive processing, in which top-down expectations constrain incoming sensory data. In this perspective, expectations are updated (error minimization) only if sensory data sufficiently deviate from these expectations (prediction error). Although originally applied to perception, predictive processing is thought to generally characterize cognitive architecture, including the social cognitive processes involved in ideological thinking. Scaling up these simple computational principles to the social sphere outlines a path by which group members may adopt shared ideologies and beliefs to predict behavior and cooperate with each other. Because ideological judgments are of specific interest to others in our political groups, we may increasingly regulate each other’s thinking, sharing the process of error minimization. In this paper, we outline how this process of shared error minimization may lead to shared ideologies and beliefs that allow group members to predict and cooperate with each other, and how, as a consequence, political polarization and extremism may result.

Warren, C., Schneider, S.P., Smith, K.B., & Hibbing, J.R.(forthcoming). Motivated Viewing: Selective Exposure to Political Images When Reasoning is not Involved. Personality and Individual Differences.

Motivated reasoning is an important element of politics especially in these highly polarized times. People selectively expose themselves to information in a fashion that makes it possible to embrace arguments consistent with their existing biases and ignore arguments inconsistent with those biases. Often overlooked in the research on motivated reasoning and selective exposure to information, however, is that a substantial portion of politics is about affective responses—that which makes people feel good and that which makes people feel bad. In this paper, we introduce a novel indicator of people’s tendency to prolong exposure to favored political images or to truncate exposure to disliked political images. This measure makes it possible to better understand individual differences regarding concepts such as negativity bias and asymmetric political attention even when substantive, issuebased information is not at play.

Schneider, S.P., Smith, K.B., & Hibbing, J.R. (2018). Genetic Attributions: Sign of Intolerance or Acceptance?. The Journal of Politics, 80(3): 1023 1027.

Many scholars argue that people who attribute human characteristics to genetic causes also tend to hold politically and socially problematic attitudes. More specifically, public acceptance of genetic influences is believed to be associated with intolerance, prejudice, and the legitimation of social inequities and laissez-faire policies. We test these expectations with original data from two nationally representative samples that allow us to identify the American public’s attributional patterns across 18 diverse traits. Key findings are (1) genetic attributions are actually more likely to be made by liberals, not conservatives; (2) genetic attributions are associated with higher, not lower, levels of tolerance of vulnerable individuals; and (3) genetic attributions do not correlate with unseemly racial attitudes.

Peterson, J.C., Gonzalez, F.G., & Schneider, S.P. (2017). Effects of disease salience and xenophobia on support for humanitarian aid. Politics and the Life Sciences, 36(2), 17-36

This article examines how disease salience influences attitudes toward two types of humanitarian aid: sending foreign aid and housing refugees. Some have argued that disease salience increases levels of out-group prejudice through what is referred to as the behavioral immune system (BIS), and this increase in out-group prejudice works to shape policy attitudes. However, an alternative mechanism that may explain the effects of disease salience is contamination fear, which would suggest there is no group bias in the effects of disease threat. Existing work largely interprets opposition to policies that assist out-groups as evidence of out-group prejudice. We suggest it is necessary to separate measures of out-group animosity from opinions toward specific policies to determine whether increased out-group prejudice rather than fear of contamination is the mechanism by which disease salience impacts policy attitudes. Across two experiments, disease salience is shown to significantly decrease support for humanitarian aid, but only in the form of refugee support. Furthermore, there is converging evidence to suggest that any influence of disease salience on aid attitudes is not caused by a corresponding increase in xenophobia. We suggest that the mechanism by which disease threat influences policy attitudes is a general fear of contamination rather than xenophobia. These findings go against an important hypothesized mechanism of the BIS and have critical implications for the relationship between disease salience and attitudes toward transnational policies involving humanitarian aid.

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Schneider, S.P. (Forthcoming). Eugenics. In D. Haider-Markel (Ed.),Legislating Morality in America. ABC-CLIO.

Haas, I,J. & Schneider, S.P.(2017). Mass political behavior. In F. Moghaddam (Ed.),The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior(pp. 470-472). SAGE Publications

Manuscripts in Preparation / Under Review

Schneider, S.P., & Haas, I,J. “Political Threat, Ideology, and Conspiracy Endorsement Before and After the 2016 Presidential Election.”

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was unusual in the number of unsubstantiated claims made about the candidates and government in general. Although scholars have suggested that the ideological undertones of conspiratorial beliefs shift with presidential election outcomes, little work has examined the mechanism linking political ideology to conspiratorial beliefs. In this paper, we examine whether perceived political threat increases the likelihood that individuals will support ideologically-relevant conspiracy theories before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We find that both ideology and threat predict conspiracy endorsement. While threat is a significant predictor of conspiracy endorsement across all types of conspiracy theories, the effect of threat on endorsement of conservative conspiracy theories disappeared for conservatives one week after the election. Taken together, these findings suggest that the reasons for conspiracy endorsement may shift over time as a function of current motivation to endorse or support ideas that benefit one’s political ingroup.

Gonzalez, F.G., Schneider, S.P., & Lauf, S.“Ideological Asymmetries in Predispositions to Identify with Groups.”

NYC CESS 2018 Poster

Using the Minimal Groups Paradigm, we examine ideological asymmetries in the tendency to identify with both novel and preexisting groups. A growing literature in political psychology suggests conservative ideology is associated with ingroup loyalty and favoritism, adherence to group norms, and preferences for group-based hierarchy. Are conservatives simply more group-oriented than liberals? On the one hand, it is reasonable to suggest conservatives attach to novel groups more easily in the first place. On the other hand, it is possible conservatives display “harder boundaries” regarding preexisting group memberships and thus are more resistant to identifying with novel groups than liberals. We examine the degree to which liberals and conservatives identify with groups in a labbased group decision-making task in which we experimentally manipulate whether the groups are novel (i.e. created within the laboratory setting) or preexisting (i.e. groups the participants already belong to). This investigation has substantial implications for understanding the psychological mechanisms underlying political ideology, particularly how orientation toward and identification with novel groups helps to explain conservative and liberal belief structures.

Warren, C., Schneider, S.P., Lauf, S., Smith, K.B. & Hibbing, J.R. “Pressing Politics: Measuring Approach and Avoidance Behaviors Using a Keypress Task.”

How much effort are people willing to expend in order to maximize or minimize their exposure to politicians and causes they either find favorable or unfavorable? In this paper, we present a measure of political effort, which has previously not been applied within the political domain: a keypress task. Using this keypress task and a sample of undergraduate students at a midwestern university, we examine the amount of effort (number of key presses) individuals are willing to exert to maintain or remove political and non-political images. Previous research has provided evidence of a negativity bias, such that we find support for our hypothesis that individuals will work harder to get rid of negative images than they will to keep up positive images. Given the polarized nature of American politics, we expected that patterns of effort for political stimuli would parallel patterns of effort for non-political stimuli. We found that partisans were more willing to exert effort to maintain images of politicians from their same party and remove politicians of the opposing party. Finally, we provide evidence that participant political extremity moderates the relationship between ideology and effort exerted during the keypress task when it comes to political figures. This keypress task provides researchers with a unique tool to measure political effort, apart from more conventional methods of self-report or

Schneider, S.P. & Warren, C. “Ideological Difference in Gender Stereotype Attributions Predict Gender Equality Attitudes.”


At the height of the MeToo movement, women’s status in society was called into question, and celebrities and politicians alike are still experiencing the aftershocks of this movement.  The MeToo movement has not gained traction with all subsets of society, as political discourse condemning the movement was abundant. There is little understanding what drives the discrepancies in what constitutes sexual harassment and whether sexism is prevalent is society.  We contend that studying whether individuals believe that men and women are inherently different in some fundamental way impacts the degree to which he or she is perceptive to sexual harassment and espouses sexist beliefs. In two separate studies, we find that individuals do view men and women as different, and these differences are attributed largely to genetic or environmental factors.  Overall, conservatives are more likely to endorse genetic explanations for differences between men and women, while liberals are more likely to endorse environmental explanations.  Additionally, we find that making genetic attributions is associated with higher levels of sexism and a propensity to discount instances of sexual harassment.