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The effect of partisanship and political advertising on close family ties

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Science  01 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 1020-1024
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq1433

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  • Political diversity reduces Thanksgiving Dinners by 4-11 minutes, not 30-50
    • Jeremy Frimer, Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg
    • Other Contributors:
      • Linda Skitka, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

    Chen and Rohla (CR henceforth) reported that political diversity shortened Thanksgiving dinners by 30-50 minutes. We suggest that the data better support the conclusion that reduction was just 4-11 minutes. To arrive at their estimate, CR performed regression analyses with the probability of a political mismatch predicting dinner duration. They reported the unstandardized coefficients, which ranged from about 22-56 minutes per unit of political mismatch and interpreted these numbers as the effect of political mismatch on dinner duration. However, the political mismatch data were tightly restricted to the region on moderate probability of mismatch, meaning that CR’s time estimate involved extrapolating beyond the populated regions of the available data.

    In private communication, CR noted that the continuous measure modeled a latent dichotomous event: there either was or was not a political mismatch. This justified the extrapolation to the unpopulated margins. We challenge the notion that mismatch is dichotomous by first noting that most Thanksgiving dinners have more than two persons in attendance, with varying mixes of Democrats and Republicans. Second, only 6 in 10 American adult citizens voted in 2016. For non-voters, individuals who voted for third party candidates, or those who concealed their political leanings, family members might have only weak intuitions about their political orientation. We believe that these considerations make political mismatch an inhe...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.