Research

Publications

Wuttke, Alexander (2017). “When the world around you is changing: Investigating the Influence of Alienation and Indifference on Voter Turnout“, in: Schoen, Harald; Roßteutscher, Sigrid; Schmitt-Beck, Rüdiger; Weßels, Bernhard; Wolf, Christof (eds.): “Voters and Voting in Context”, Oxford University Press, pp. pp. 146–166.  — Pre-PrintOnline-AppendixStata Replication Files

What is the leeway (and the responsibility) of political parties for increasing voter turnout? Do voters cast a ballot or abstain from voting in reaction to the policy offerings of political parties? This chapter employs long-term panel data to observe voters´ behavior over time within a changing political context. It shows a limited effect of political parties´ positions on turnout decisions.

Jungherr, Andreas; Finkelnburg, Antonin; Güldenzopf, Ralf; Mader, Matthias; Schoen, Harald; Wuttke, Alexander (2016). “Wirkung politischer Informationsbriefe in Unterstützung von TTIP“, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.           — Download

This study is a general-audience-summary of a project on 1) the predictors of political attitudes towards TTIP and 2) a parallel experiment online and in the field on political persuasion. It shows that attitudes towards TTIP are not driven by self-concerned economic interests but by specific political considerations regarding the contested object itself and that these attitudes are malleable by persuasive attempts of interest groups. 

Wuttke, Alexander (2013) “Die Prekarität des Partizipationsversprechens der Piratenpartei.” In: Deutsche Nachwuchsgesellschaft für Politik- und Sozialwissenschaft e.V. (eds.): “Protest und Demokratie – Politische Soziologie: 1. und 2. Studentische Fachtagung der Deutschen Nachwuchsgesellschaft für Politik- und Sozialwissenschaft.” Hamburg: tredition. — Download

This book chapter is a shortened version of my bachelor´s thesis and applies Robert Michel´s theory of the iron law of oligarchy to the then newly established Pirate Party in Germany. Based on the psychological and organizational mechanisms towards intra-party-centralization and elitization the study analyzes the party´s attempts to counter these tendencies and concludes with a pessimistic outlook on the fate of this political experiment in grassroots democracy. 

 

Dissertation

Self-Determination Theory of Political Motivation

Political science knows much about the predictors of political engagement. According to one of the disciplines most prominent models, citizens refrain from engagement with political matters because they cann´t, because they don´t want to or because nobody asked. That people do something only if they want to do it seems trivial first sight. However, that citizens differ in their general motivation to engage with the political domain is an important that reveals a fundamental void in our knowledge about political attitudes and behavior:

Why do some people not other about politics at all, while others find pleasure in reading about, discussing and engaging in political matters and why still others would only reluctantly engage with politics to avoid social sanctions or to comply with an unpleasant civic duty. In particular, we need to better understand seemingly non-instrumental, intrinsically motivated behavior which is done for its own reward like watching a political TV show just for the sake of pleasure.

My dissertation develops a new theoretical framework to explain individual differences in political motivation and tries to explain its origins and behavioral consequences. To meaningfully explain intrinsically and extrinsically motivated political engagement I propose to import from motivation studies the psychological self-determination theory. Political motivation is argued to originate from domain-specific experiences and from the interplay of basic human needs´ satisfaction and innate organismic tendencies for growth and psychic integration. More autonomous types of motivation results are less context-dependent and result in different and more stable behavior that is subjectively experienced as more enjoyable. Analyses of a longitudinal cohort studies on parenting styles confirm the basic notion of need-related experiences early in life to shape political motivation and engagement in adulthood. The behavioral consequences of different types and levels of political motivation is investigated with a novel instrument to measure political motivation.

 

Work in Progress 

New political parties through the eyes of the voters [submitted]

The emergence of political parties was mainly studied on a macro-level, with implicit assump-tions about the underlying considerations of new-party-voters. Yet, to explain the conditions of a successful party establishment, we need to understand the determinants of voting for a new party on an individual level. Using cross-national voter surveys and long-term panel data of German elections from 2005 to 2013, this study contrasts theories of equilibrium- and protest-based emer-gence of new parties. Empirically observed voter behavior does not fully comply with the as-sumptions of neither theory. Rather, new-party-voters are driven by a combination of ideological considerations and a generalized political discontent. These results may inform further theoreti-cal work on the successful establishment of new political parties.

Measuring Effects of Interest Groups’ Mailings in Survey Experiments and in the Field

This project consists of a large-scale field-experiment conducted in cooperation with a German interest group investigating the effects of political communication in the field.  The study is based on a three-wave online survey of respondents (n=4,500 in wave 3) drawn from a heterogeneous online panel. These respondents are randomly assigned to two experimental groups and a control group. Members of the first experimental group receive an issue-mailing by postal mail while members of the second experimental group receive the issue-mailing as a treatment in an online survey experiment. This allows us to identify potential differences in presence and strength of effects on opinions between survey and field experimental conditions. The study speaks to an important substantial question in political communication research—what effects, if any, does have an issue mailing sent by a German interest group on opinions of recipients—as well as a methodological one—can we expect communication effects identified in survey- or lab-experiments to be relevant in the field. — see: presentation WZB Berlin 2016, blog postKAS publication

 

 

Working Papers

Der Bandwagon-Effekt: Entscheiden Sonntagsfragen Wahlen? Eine pfadanalytische Untersuchung des Einflusses veröffentlichter Sonntagsfragen auf das Wahlverhalten bei der Bundestagswahl 2013” — Download

This article examines the effects of published polls on voting intentions during the campaign for the 2013 German National Elections. I argue that the inconsistent evidence in current research regarding published polls´ influence on voting behavior might be attributed to the solely focus on direct effects and a lacking understanding of the underlying cognitive processes. Using rolling-cross-section survey data for the 2013 German federal elections, I conducted multilevel-path analyses to examine the cognitive processing of opinion polls and its effect on voters´ attitudes and voting intentions. Results demonstrate the existence of bandwagon-effects driven by published polls on voting intentions for the Left and the Green Party that are mediated by polls’ effects on the short-term evaluations of parties and candidates. 

 

Presentations

“Self-determination in political engagement: a motivational persepctive on why citizens do (not) engage with politics”, presented at “Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association”, 04/07/2016 in Chicago-Presentation MPSA 2017

“Comparing evidence from parallel survey and field experiments: The persuasive effect of an interest group mailing”, presented at “Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association”, 04/08/2016 in Chicago-Presentation MPSA 2017

“Testing the power of interest group persuasion – A parallel field- and survey experiment”, presented at “WZB Berlin Social Science Center”, 11/17/2016 in Berlin– Presentation WZB Berlin 2016

“Towards a Self-determination Theory of Political Motivation: The Influence of Need-Supportive Parenting on Political Engagement”, presented at “ECPR General Conference”, 09/09/2016 in Prague — Paper-Download

“New political parties through the voter´s eyes: Better the devil you don´t know than the devil you do“, presented at “ECPR Graduate Student Conference“, 06/12/2016 in Tartu — Slides-Download, Paper-Download

„Turnout and Electoral Supply“, presented at: “GLES-Young Researchers Network“, 06/11/2015, Cologne — Download

„Der Bandwagon-Effekt: Entscheiden Sonntagsfragen Wahlen? Eine pfadanalytische Untersuchung des Einflusses veröffentlichter Sonntagsfragen auf das Wahlverhalten bei der Bundestagswahl 2013“, Paper presented at:  Meeting of DVPW Sections “Politics and Communications” & “Elections and Political Attitudes”, 06/06/2014 in Berlin — Download

„Die Partizipationsillusion der Piratenpartei? – Demokratische Mitbestimmungsmöglichkeiten in der Piratenpartei im Kontext des Parteientheorie Robert Michels“ Paper presented at: Meeting of the Association of German Students of Political and Social Sciences, 06/07/2012 in Würzburg.

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