The experiments took place during the 1994 California gubernatorial race, from September 4 to November 2. Using several methods, including newspaper advertisements and flyers, 604 adults were recruited from the local community. They were promised a payment of $10 in return for engaging in an hour-long study of “selective perception. ” Although the sample was obviously nonrandom, participants reflected the composition of California. Across all the experiments, 58 percent of the participants were male, 51 percent were white, 21 percent were black, 10 percent were Asian, and 12 percent were Hispanic. The median age was 35. Thirty-eight percent of the participants claimed affiliation with the Democratic party, 31 percent were Republicans, and 18 percent claimed to be independents (the balance did not report an affiliation). Fifty-five percent were college graduates, with the rest being evenly divided between high school graduates and individuals with some college. To compensate for selection biases, the analyses were repeated after weighting the sample to match statewide proportions; however, this procedure did not materially alter any of the results.
The experiments were conducted at two separate locations, one in West Los Angeles and one in Los Angeles's downtown area. The former is a heavily Democratic area, the latter, a more cosmopolitan urban center. The experimental facilities in both locations consisted of a threeroom office suite with two viewing rooms and a separate area for questionnaire completion. The experimental setting replicated a natural