Implicit triggers, identities and attitudes to the European Union

Cram, Laura and Mitchell , James and Patrikios, Stratos (2018). Implicit triggers, identities and attitudes to the European Union. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852380

This project examines the implications of attachment to a political regime (in this case the EU) and exposure to implicit visual triggers for political attitudes and behaviour. As the EU is a relatively new organisation, it is likely that symbolic triggers (the EU flag) do not provoke the same deep-seated responses as a national flag might. Therefore, central to this project is the role of functional visual reminders of EU membership that EU citizens are exposed to - for example on car registration plates and driving licenses. Individuals may be unaware of their exposure to these triggers yet these triggers may shape attitudes and behaviour. A series of online survey experiments with visual cues will expose participants in England, Scotland and Wales, within the UK, and in Ireland to implicit symbolic and functional triggers related to the European Union. The experiments will also manipulate the context in which the individual is exposed to the triggers (threatening or non-threatening). The innovative methods and techniques developed in this project will produce new insights into the relationship between identity and political behaviour.

Data description (abstract)

During April 2011 we conducted a series of online survey experiments. Our sample of 8599 included participants who identified themselves as: English, Scottish, Welsh, British or Irish. Participation in each of the five samples was determined by individual responses to a previous online questionnaire, which included a national identity/attachment question (March 2011). Based on their responses to the screening question, participants were initially assigned into one of the five identity groups/samples. During the random assignment of respondents to conditions, one of our aims was to maintain a similar demographic mix across the five national groups. The five groups were similar in terms of interest in political affairs and educational attainment. They were also similar in terms of age, with the exception of the Irish sample, which was overall younger. Respondents from each of the five groups were randomly and implicitly exposed to different versions of the same image or to a control image. Exposure to these images served as our key independent variable. By implicit exposure we mean that participants were unaware of the EU-related nature of the experiment. The trigger was either symbolic (an EU flag presented in an abstract context) or functional (an EU symbol presented on a sign during airport passport control). We also introduced a contextual variable, both images were also presented in both threat and neutral context. The responses of participants exposed to the EU trigger were compared to the responses of participants who saw similar images that had the EU trigger removed (control condition).

Creator NameEmailAffiliationORCID (as URL)
Cram, University of EdinburghUnspecified
Mitchell , University of EdinburghUnspecified
Patrikios, of StrathclydeUnspecified
Research funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Grant reference: ES/I021744/1
Topic classification: Politics
Keywords: attitudes, attachment, EU identity, experimental, implicit triggers
Project title: Implicit triggers, identity(ies) and attitudes to the European Union: An experimental approach
Grant holders: Laura Cram, James Mitchell, Stratos Patrikios
Project dates:
1 December 201030 November 2011
Date published: 06 Jul 2018 11:52
Last modified: 30 Jul 2018 13:11

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