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Skeptic Research Center

Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

The purpose of our initial study, the Social and Political Attitudes Study (SPAS), was to discover which political issues most divide people, and also to discover how the most divided people see the world.

In our new study, Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES), currently in the data analysis stage, we examine the same topics but in light of the unprecedented level of social and economic unrest of 2020. Specifically, we have added questions about peoples’ political and social attitudes as they relate to the George Floyd protests, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the presidential election.

Data is being collected in September and October 2020 via Qualtrics Survey Software and Qualtrics’ sample recruitment services. 1500 adults will fill out a 15-minute survey. The study sample is nationally representative, meaning that the proportion of participants will reflect the U.S. adult population in terms of educational attainment, gender, and household income. We also over-sampled ethnic minorities to ensure that their attitudes, experiences, and perceptions can be assessed adequately.

For additional information (e.g., measures used, codebook, participant details) on this study, please feel free to contact the principal investigators: Dr. Kevin McCaffree and Dr. Anondah Saide.

We are interested in hearing your suggestions for future research studies. Please send us an email to [email protected].

Science is fundamentally a collaborative endeavor. Your contributions, whether concrete (i.e., monetary) or abstract (i.e., ideas) are important to us. There are many ways you can become involved or contribute to the Skeptic Research Center. Fund our studies. Provide feedback. Submit an idea by email.

REPORT (CUPES-009)

Has Time Spent with Family and Friends Declined?

Ninth report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

In this report, we investigated the extent to which peoples’ time spent with family and friends changed during a particular period in American history: the leadup to the 2020 Presidential election amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that both the 2020 presidential election and COVID-19 were significant political events embroiled in significant political disagreements, we draw from a sample of adults taken in Fall 2020 to investigate changes in peoples’ interactions with friends and family compared to the prior Fall of 2019.
Download Report (CUPES-009)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2021. Has Time Spent with Family and Friends Declined? Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-009.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-009.

REPORT (CUPES-008)

Why Are People Misinformed About Fatal Police Shootings?

Eighth report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

In our last report (CUPES-007), we found a surprising degree of inaccuracy about race and policing amongst the American public across the political spectrum. In particular, those who reported being politically “liberal” or “very liberal,” appeared to be the most uninformed. This week we report on a follow-up set of analyses on this important issue. What factors might contribute to peoples’ misconceptions about race and police shootings?
Download Report (CUPES-008)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2021. Why Are People Misinformed About Fatal Police Shootings? Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-008.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-008.

REPORT (CUPES-007)

How Informed are Americans about Race and Policing?

Seventh report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

In this report, we investigate a complex and defining issue of 2020 (and, no doubt, many years ahead): race and policing. Amidst calls to “defund” and reform police agencies, informed understandings of police-citizen interactions are crucial. So, here we ask the question: across the political spectrum, how knowledgeable are people when it comes to the available data on fatal police shootings of Black Americans?
Download Report (CUPES-007)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2021. How Informed are Americans about Race and Policing? Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-007.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-007.

REPORT (CUPES-006)

Outside of Politics, What Else Predicts Attitudes Towards Censorship?

Sixth report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

Two weeks ago, we examined peoples’ support for freedom of speech by voting preferences (CUPES Report #5). Given the recent politicization of this topic associated with social media bans, it is worth considering how other variables might influence peoples’ support for free speech. In this report, we share the strongest correlates of peoples’ support for free speech that we found in the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study dataset.
Download Report (CUPES-006)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2021. Outside of Politics, What Else Predicts Attitudes Towards Censorship? Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-006.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-006.

REPORT (CUPES-005)

Censorship Attitudes and Voting Preferences

Fifth report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

Here, we examine attitudes about censorship, in particular, peoples’ level of support for freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Due to the politicized nature of this topic — especially in recent months as social media censorship has been debated in the halls of government and academia — we thought it would be relevant to consider how people’s attitudes towards censorship varied with regard to their reported voting preference in the 2020 presidential election. Check out our findings.
Download Report (CUPES-005)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2021. Censorship Attitudes and Voting Preferences. Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-005.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-005.

REPORT (CUPES-004)

Trust in Institutions

Fourth report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

Here, we examine Americans’ level of trust in institutions, as well as how trust levels vary by political party affiliation and gender. We asked the question: “how much do Americans trust news media, political officials, hospitals/doctors, and educational institutions?”
Download Report (CUPES-004)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2021. Trust in Institutions. Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-004.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-004.

REPORT (CUPES-003)

Inequality & the Economy: Pandemic Tradeoffs

Third report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

In this report, we examine how peoples’ attitudes reflect difficult recent tradeoffs associated with racism, the economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic. People are concerned about unemployment, COVID-19, and racism, but how do they weigh each concern relative to one another? For example, the more people go out to protest, the more they may contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Or, the more businesses are closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the greater the risk of joblessness.
Download Report (CUPES-003)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2020. Inequality and the Economy: Pandemic Tradeoffs. Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-003.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-003.

REPORT (CUPES-002)

Intolerance Is Lower Than You Might Think

Second report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

Have Americans become more politically intolerant over the last year? If so, is this intolerance directed more toward perceived oppositional political parties or specific political candidates? In this report, we seek answers to these questions.
Download Report (CUPES-002)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2020. Intolerance Is Lower Than You Might Think. Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-002.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-002.

REPORT (CUPES-001)

Did Political Disunity Change in 2020?

First report in the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)

If nothing else, the year 2020 has focused the national conversation on how politically polarized Americans seem to have become. It would seem that much of this conversation treats polarization as a slow, cumulative, process that eventually causes inevitable conflict. In this report, our first from the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES), we show evidence of a marked shift in the unity of the Democratic Party and Republican Party between 2019 and 2020.

In this study we examined social and political attitudes in the United States as they relate to the George Floyd protests, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the presidential election.
Download Report (CUPES-001)

Suggested Citation: Saide, A., & McCaffree, K. 2020. Did Political Disunity Change in 2020? Skeptic Research Center, CUPES-001.

Technical and statistical information on this data and analysis is available in the Supplemental Materials for Report CUPES-001.

12 responses to “Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES)”

  1. Linda Rosa says:

    “Harm”? As in hurting another’s feelings, or conspiring to commit a criminal offense?

  2. Bikerbotanist says:

    It’s hard to take these reports seriously when formatting of figures is wanting, legends are weak, and perhaps most annoying – claims of significance with no error bars or such.

    • Bad Boy Scientist says:

      Agreed. Plus there is a significant difference between stating that one race or gender is better than others (which causes long term harm) and urging people to storm the capitol.
      If we aggregate data excessively we wind up with useless results like: Adult humans have, on average, one testicle and one breast.

    • Check out the Supplemental Materials says:

      In case you weren’t aware, every report comes with a “supplemental document” that provides the actual statistical output used to create the figures. You can read any additional details about participant filters, statistical tests, standard errors, p-values, etc. The reports are very transparent. You just have to open the document and email the SRC with any questions.

  3. Ann says:

    In the “Trust in Institutions” report, I don’t think labeling whether one is a Democrat or Republican as “religious affiliation” in the male/female graph is a wise move. I’m hoping that is just an editing mistake.

    • SRC Team says:

      Hi Ann, you are correct. It was a typo and will be fixed. Thank you for noticing and engaging with this work.

  4. Herb Van Fleet says:

    Intolerance is a paradox. To be intolerant one must be intolerant of intolerance.

    • Mark A LaJoie says:

      Congratulations, Mr. Van Fleet! You just flunked freshman philosophy.

    • Bad Boy Scientist says:

      I believe you meant to say “To be tolerant one must be intolerant of intolerance.”

      Although this pithy sound-bite may seem superficial, it does express the position embraced by many Straight, White Males: Liberals and Progressives are more anti Straight, White Male than they (we) are pro-diversity.

      (When we do things like tell jokes about “Karens” while being scandalized by jokes about “Hajis” we reinforce the view that our tolerance is a lie.)

      Not all Liberals deserve this criticism: there are tolerant people. E.g. Daryl Davis, who has ‘converted’ hundreds away from the KKK.

  5. All you have to do is read the New York Times, LA says:

    All you have to do is read the New York Times, LA Times, economist and the New Yorker and realize how the polarization of our culture is heading towards more intolerance

    • Think Beyond “Elite” Journalistic Interpretations says:

      When thinking about the perspectives presented in the NY Times, LA Times, etc., it is important to take into account who reads those papers (all of which have a paywall) and who tends to write in them. The ideas they present are not necessarily representative of everyday Americans (i.e., the general population of U.S. adults). There are fairly obvious limitations with the representativeness of the outlets you listed. 

      If you are referring to the research those outlets are reviewing, not all research on political polarization is the same and therefore not all of it is comparable. Each study may use different wording of the questions which has important implications for what we can conclude from the findings. Take this study as an example, it was reviewed in the NYT. 

      “The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States” by Iygengar et al. (2019)

      This study (which suggests that polarization is increasing) presented the findings of one surface/general question about how much “warmth” you feel towards other party members. The Skeptic study on the other hand, asked 5 more specific questions about how much “irritation” they would feel around other party members such as a friend, co-worker, etc. These studies are not approaching the study of polarization in the same way and to conclude that one is “more true,” rather than both “adding greater context” to the phenomenon, is short-sighted. Yes, they say different things but that is because they are looking at it differently. Skeptic is showing that when it comes to being around a member of the oppositional political party in an everyday sense, socially, people report generally tolerant attitudes towards them. This is about how tolerant you are towards people with different political views when you work with them, spend time socially together, etc. Not how “warm” you might feel to some abstract generalized other. 

      Put more simply: (1) journalists do not represent everyone—with those outlets you mentioned being particularly attractive to a socioeconomic subset of the population, and (2) journalists are more prone than researchers are to overly interpret research and to do so in an overly simplistic way. 

    • David B Porter says:

      I think CUPES 001 provides evidence that intolerance may be waning. The 10% shift over the last year on the Republican side appears to show some of them have become more aware and supportive of the importance of social justice and progressive perspectives. The 10% shift on the Democratic side might be interpreted to reflect either similarly increased acceptance of these positions (or a willingness by those espousing them to express them in less extreme/objectionable terms.) There is reason to believe Theodore Parker & Martin Luther King, Jr: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.” Thanks to this research, we have a little data to go with what our conscience causes us to hope to be true.

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