An experimental look at the gender gap in political knowledge: Visual versus verbal political knowledge

GT 4.7 Análisis metodológicos de la medición de comportamientos, valores y actitudes sociopolíticas

Marta Fraile Maldonado (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas)
Gema M. García Albacete (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
Mónica Ferrín Pereira (Collegio Carlo Alberto)
Sesión 1
Día: viernes,20 de septiembre de 2013
Hora: 11:45 a 14:15
Lugar: E11SEM04

Political knowledge is a main antecedent of political behavior and a good predictor of voter turnout. There is an enduring gender gap in political knowledge that cannot be explained away by the usual socioeconomic inequalities. However, the instruments used to measure political knowledge have been questioned in the last decade, among other reasons, for underestimating citizens’ political knowledge in general and overestimating the gender gap in particular. Building on those findings this paper examines the potential contribution of visual versus verbal political knowledge in explaining the gender gap. To measure visual knowledge a series of experiments were embedded in a representative (face to face) survey of Spanish population that was curried out in December 2012. Identical questions were included in two formats: asking for names and public office positions on one hand, and using images for the same questions on the other. Furthermore, in order to see if the role of visual knowledge is particularly relevant for political issues, the same technique was used for questions related to other types of knowledge, such as the name or profession of journalists or artists. This paper will present the first results of a unique survey designed to explain why women know less about politics. Specifically, it will analyze the role of visual versus verbal knowledge to account for the gender gap in political knowledge after controlling for several other explanations often used such as socioeconomic status, occupation, socialization into traditional gender roles, or the availability of time.

Palabras clave: political knowledge, gender gaph, experimental design