Cohen-Blankshtain, Galit, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Foregone and Predicted Futures: Challenges of opportunity cost neglect and impact bias for public participation in policymaking”. Journal of European Public Policy.Abstract
Deliberative democracy fosters greater involvement of the public in policymaking. However, psychological challenges involved in eliciting policy preferences receive little attention in this context. This study addresses the implications of opportunity cost neglect (OCN) and impact bias for policy preferences. Utilizing a survey experiment among residents of peripheral towns in Israel, we examine preferences regarding investment in rail infrastructure in peripheral areas. In line with psychological studies on OCN, we find evidence that priming awareness to alternatives can de-bias OCN in policy preferences. However, this method is less effective for people who exhibit impact bias (respondents for whom the policy is new), presenting a serious challenge to the validity of policy preferences of those who are expected to be most affected by the considered policy. This paper offers a theoretical contribution to the relationship between OCN and impact bias, and discusses the practical implications for public participation in policymaking.
Steiner, Talya, Liat Netzer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Necessity or Balancing: The Protection of Rights under Different Proportionality Tests – Experimental Evidence.”. International Journal of Constitutional Law.Abstract

Despite its global proliferation, there is no standard formulation for proportionality analysis. The result is debate over the optimal formulation and application of the doctrine and the ramifications of adopting different versions. A subset of this debate relates to which element of the doctrine provides rights with greater protection against competing public interests. Although this dispute is essentially empirical, arguments on the matter remain strictly theoretical.

This study presents the first experimental analysis of the effects of specific subtests of proportionality analysis on the level of protection afforded to rights. We find strong evidence that applying proportionality in terms of the necessity test – whether there are less-restrictive means - results in greater protection of rights in policy decisions than does applying proportionality in terms of the strict proportionality test – balancing the benefit against the harm.

The findings suggest that including a necessity component within the proportionality doctrine, and emphasizing it as a central stage of the analysis, can enhance the protection of rights in decisions regarding rights-restricting policy.
Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Distance Breeds Alienation: Perceived ideological distance lowers students' evaluations of their professors.”. Journal of Political Science Education.
Motsenok, M, et al. Forthcoming. “The Slippery Slope of Temporary Measures: An Experimental Analysis”. Behavioural Public Policy. Publisher's Version
Yair, Omer, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Yoav Dotan. 2020. “Can Institutions Make Voters Care about Corruption?”. Journal of Politics 82 (4) : 1430-1442. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Voters’ punishment of corrupt politicians at the ballot box is oftentimes modest, at best. Recent studies suggest that this minor electoral sanctioning is due to limited corruption information and to the relative weakness of integrity considerations in voting behavior. We demonstrate that anticorruption measures taken by elite institutions—in this case, the Israeli Supreme Court—in close proximity to an election can increase electoral sanctioning by enhancing the importance of integrity considerations, holding corruption information fixed. We use the variation in incumbent integrity across time and space to identify the effect of an exogenous anticorruption decision by the Supreme Court on voting (study 1). We further test this effect in a novel survey experiment, with mayoral performance satisfaction as the dependent variable (study 2). Both studies demonstrate that judicial bodies have the capacity to influence electoral behavior by enhancing the importance of integrity considerations, holding corruption information constant.
Maor, M, R Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and D Chinitz. 2020. “When COVID-19, constitutional crisis, and political deadlock meet: The Israeli case from a disproportionate policy perspective.”. Policy & Society 39 (3) : 442-457. Publisher's Version
Statman, Daniel, et al. 2020. “Unreliable Protection: An Experimental Study of Experts’ In-Bello Proportionality Decisions”. European Journal of International Law 31 (2) : 429-453. Publisher's VersionPDF icon unreliable_protection_online_appendix_2020.pdf
Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan. 2020. “Blame Avoidance and Inquiries”. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford University Press. Publisher's Version
Kremnitzer, Mordechai, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2020. “Proportionality and policy analysis: An integrative discussion and its applications”. Mishpat-Umimshal [in Hebrew]. Publisher's Version
Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Reimut Zohlnhofer. 2019. “Policy and Blame Attribution: Citizens' Preferences, Policy Reputations, and Policy Surprises”. Political Behavior 41 (1) : 53-77. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Negativity bias suggests that the attribution of blame to governments, for alleged or actual policy failures, is disproportionately pertinent for their popularity. However, when citizens attribute blame for adverse consequences of a policy, does it make a difference which policy was it, and who was the political agent that adopted the policy? We posit that the level of blame citizens attribute to political agents for policy failures depends on three policy-oriented considerations: (1) the distance between a citizen’s ideal policy and the agent’s established policy position; (2) the distance between a citizen’s ideal policy and the agent’s concrete policy choice; and (3) the distance between the agent’s established policy position and her concrete policy choice. The inherent relationship between these three policy-oriented considerations renders their integration in one model a theoretical and methodological imperative. The model provides novel observable predictions regarding the conditions under which each of the three policy-oriented factors will produce either pronounced or subtle observable effects on blame attribution. We test the model’s predictions in two survey experiments, in Israel and in Germany. The results of both experiments are highly consistent with the model’s predictions. These finding offer an important contribution by specifying the ways in which individual-level preferences interact with politicians’ policy reputations and policy choices to shape blame attribution. Our model entails unintuitive revisions to several strands of the literature, and in the “Discussion” section we provide tentative support for the applicability of this model to other political judgments beyond blame attribution.

Kendel, Uri, Ofir Pinto, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2019. “Social Security Contribution Evasion in Israel: Profiling and Characteristic Analysis of Debtors.”. Social Security 108 : 1-25 [in Hebrew]. Publisher's Version
Zamir, Eyal, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2018. “Explaining Self-Interested Behavior of Public-Spirited Policy Makers”. Public Administration Review 78 (4) : 579-592. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Public choice theory (PCT) has had a powerful influence on political science and, to a lesser extent, public administration. Based on the premise that public officials are rational maximizers of their own utility, PCT has a quite successful record of correctly predicting governmental decisions and policies. This success is puzzling in light of behavioral findings showing that officials do not necessarily seek to maximize their own utility. Drawing on recent advances in behavioral ethics, this article offers a new behavioral foundation for PCT's predictions by delineating the psychological processes that lead well‐intentioned people to violate moral and social norms. It reviews the relevant findings of behavioral ethics, analyzes their theoretical and policy implications for officials' decision making, and sets an agenda for future research

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Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2018. “When Do We Care About Political Neutrality? The Hypocritical Nature of Reaction to Political Bias”. PLoS ONE 13 (5) : e0196674. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Claims and accusations of political bias are common in many countries. The essence of such claims is a denunciation of alleged violations of political neutrality in the context of media coverage, legal and bureaucratic decisions, academic teaching etc. Yet the acts and messages that give rise to such claims are also embedded within a context of intergroup competition. Thus, in evaluating the seriousness of, and the need for taking a corrective action in reaction to a purported politically biased act people may consider both the alleged normative violation and the political implications of the act/message for the evaluator’s ingroup. The question thus arises whether partisans react similarly to ingroup-aiding and ingroup-harming actions or messages which they perceive as politically biased. In three separate studies, conducted in two countries, we show that political considerations strongly affect partisans’ reactions to actions and messages that they perceive as politically biased. Namely, ingroup-harming biased messages/acts are considered more serious and are more likely to warrant corrective action in comparison to ingroup-aiding biased messages/acts. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the implementations of measures intended for correcting and preventing biases, and for the nature of conflict and competition between rival political groups.

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Livnat-Lerer, Michal, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Tehila Kogut. 2018. “Foresighted Outcome Effect: A Micro-foundation of Agents' Risk Aversion in Principal-Agent Relations”. Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 1 (1) : 1-10. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Agents' risk aversion is a long-standing source of concern in principal-agent theory and in the practice of organizations. While standard principal-agent theory assumes that principals adequately infer conclusions from noisy outcomes, behavioral research suggests that their inferences are affected by outcome bias. We take a further theoretical step, and propose that when an agent knows that the principal's evaluation of the agent's decision will be based on outcome knowledge, the agent expects the principal to be overly affected by the outcome, rather than by the merit of the choice. As a result, the agent seeks to minimize the likelihood of an adverse outcome, leading to risk aversion. The results of three laboratory experiments support this hypothesis, suggesting that under outcome-knowledge-based principal-agent relationships, agents anticipate the effect of outcome bias on principals, and adjust their ex-ante behavior by opting for less risky alternatives, a phenomenon we call foresighted outcome effect.

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Maor, Moshe, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2016. “Responsive Change: Agency Output Response to Reputational Threats”. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 26 (1) : 31-44. Publisher's VersionAbstract

How do reputational threats affect agency outputs? We undertake quantitative and qualitative analyses of reputation and outputs data regarding the fight against welfare fraud by the main service delivery agency for the Australian government in the field of social policy. We find that an agency’s response to reputational threats is endogenously differential both within the set of agency outputs and between agency outputs and other activities (a pattern we termed responsive change ). For the former, we find that when an agency output is below average, negative media coverage leads to an increase in output in the following year. However, this relationship is nullified for agency outputs that are about average and is reversed for outputs that are above average, that is, these outputs tend to decrease following negative media coverage. For the latter, we find that when a reputational threat is joined by a general above average level of outputs, the agency’s drive for change is likely to be channeled into activities other than the number of units of service delivered (e.g., public relations, community engagements, stakeholder consultations, etc.).

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, Mordechai Kremnitzer, and Sharon Alon. 2016. “Facts, Preferences, and Doctrine: An Empirical Analysis of Proportionality Judgment”. Law & Society Review 5 (2) : 348-382. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Legal proportionality is one of the most important principles for adjudicating among conflicting values. However, rather little is known about the factors that play a role in the formation of proportionality judgments. This research presents the first empirical analysis in this regard, relying on a sample of 331 legal experts (lawyers and legal academics). The policy domain addressed by the experiment is the antiterrorist military practice of targeted killings, which has been the subject of a legal debate. Our experimental findings suggest that proportionality judgments are receptive to normatively relevant facts. We also find strong correlational evidence for the effect of ideological preferences on such judgments. These results are consistent for two proportionality doctrines. We suggest that proportionality judgment is anchored jointly in the experts’ policy preferences and the facts of the case. We outline the implications of the findings for the psychological and legal literature.

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Yifat Holzman-Gazit. 2016. “Form and Content: Institutional Preferences and Public Opinion in a Crisis Inquiry”. Administration & Society 48 (1) : 3-30. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Crisis inquiries are intended to serve as instruments for restoring legitimacy. This intended goal has led to particular legitimacy-enhancing institutional choices in the design of these ad hoc institutions. This research utilizes a national panel study to test the effect of institutional attributes of a crisis inquiry and the content of its report on its legitimacy, and the effects of the inquiry findings on public opinion regarding the inquired issue. Our results show that only some institutional attributes predicted the legitimacy of the inquiry findings, whereas the content of the report was strongly and consistently associated with report legitimacy.

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Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2015. “Biased Judgment of Political Bias: Perceived Ideological Distance Increases Perceptions of Political Bias.”. Political Behavior 37 (2) : 487-507. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Accusations of political bias in the mass media, academia, the courts and various other institutions are common in many democracies. However, despite the prevalence of these accusations and the public attention they have received, research on the effects of perceived ideological distance on perceptions of political bias is lacking. Focusing on perceptions of political bias in academia, and drawing on a survey of 1,257 students in social science and law faculties in five Israeli universities, we show that the perceived ideological distance between a student and her set of professors increases perceptions of politically biased behavior of professors, and that the effects of 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' ideological distances are not symmetric. Possible implications and directions for further research are then suggested.
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Livnat, M., R. Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and T. Kogut. 2015. “The Effects of Hindsight Biased Judgment on Accountable Decision Makers”. Politika 24 : 5-32.Abstract

"הטיית השיפוט בדיעבד" מוגדרת כתופעה פסיכולוגית שבה פרטים מעריכים יתר על המידה את ההסתברות שהיו מעניקים להתרחשות תוצאה מסוימת של אירוע, לאחר היוודע להם שתרחיש זה אכן התקיים ואחרי שעמדו על תוצאותיו. הספרות המחקרית עשירה בהוכחות לקיומה של תופעה זו, ולפיכך במאמר זה נבחן סוגיה זו מזווית אחרת, אשר למיטב ידיעתנו טרם נבחנה: כיצד אדם הנמצא בעמדת שיפוט בדיעבד משפיע על אופן קבלת ההחלטות אצל גורם אחר הנתון לשיפוט זה? כלומר האם הגורם הנמצא בעמדת קבלת החלטות מושפע מכך שגורם השופט אותו עושה זאת לאחר היוודע לו תוצאות החלטותיו? חשיבותו של מחקר זו טמונה בכך שהשפעה ממשית של תופעה זו על מקבלי החלטות עשויה להביא לפגיעה בשיקוליהם המקצועיים והענייניים ולגרום לכך שהרצון להימנע מנשיאה באשמה יהיה שיקול מרכזי בהכרעתם.

במסגרת מחקר זה ערכנו ניסוי פרטני בקרב 81 סטודנטים, אשר בחן את נטייתם של הנבדקים לסיכון או לשמרנות בבחירותיהם כאשר הם נתונים לשיפוט בדיעבד.

תוצאות המחקר מלמדות כי אנשים הנתונים לשיפוטו של אדם בעל ידע בדיעבד על תוצאות החלטותיהם נוטים להירתע מסיכון יותר מאלה הנתונים לשיפוטו של אדם אשר אינו חשוף לידע זה במסגרת שיפוטו. למסקנה זו השלכה ישירה על תהליכי קבלת החלטות בכלל ועל תחום המדיניות הציבורית בפרט.

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan. 2015. “Review of Milton Lodge and Charles S. Taber, The Rationalizing Voter”. Czech Sociological Review 51 (3) : 556-558. Publisher's VersionPDF icon sulitzeanu-kenan_2015.pdf