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Audio player loading…. The principle explains specific consciousness by appeal to neural representational content. Posing a clear question involves grasping its possible answers and in science, this is informed by identifying experiments that can provide evidence for such answers. The emphasis on necessary and sufficient conditions in our two questions indicates how to empirically test specific proposals. To test sufficiency, one would aim to produce or modulate a certain neural state and then demonstrate that consciousness of a certain form arises.
To test necessity, one would eliminate a certain neural state and demonstrate that consciousness is abolished. Notice that such tests go beyond mere correlation between neural states and conscious states see section 1.
In many experimental contexts, the underlying idea is causal necessity and sufficiency. Whichever option holds for S , the first step is to find N , a neural correlate of consciousness section 1.
In what follows, to explain generic consciousness, various global properties of neural systems will be considered section 3 as well as specific anatomical regions that are tied to conscious versus unconscious vision as a case study section 4.
For specific consciousness, fine-grained manipulations of neural representations will be examined that plausibly shift and modulate the contents of perceptual experience section 5. It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C?
How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all?
It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does. If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one. Chalmers The Hard Problem can be specified in terms of generic and specific consciousness Chalmers In both cases, Chalmers argues that there is an inherent limitation to empirical explanations of phenomenal consciousness in that empirical explanations will be fundamentally either structural or functional, yet phenomenal consciousness is not reducible to either.
This means that there will be something that is left out in empirical explanations of consciousness, a missing ingredient see also the explanatory gap [Levine ]. There are different responses to the hard problem. One response is to sharpen the explanatory targets of neuroscience by focusing on what Chalmers calls structural features of phenomenal consciousness, such as the spatial structure of visual experience, or on the contents of phenomenal consciousness. When we assess explanations of specific contents of consciousness, these focus on the neural representations that fix conscious contents.
These explanations leave open exactly what the secret ingredient is that shifts a state with that content from unconsciousness to consciousness.
On ingredients explaining generic consciousness, a variety of options have been proposed see section 3 , but it is unclear whether these answer the Hard Problem, especially if any answer to that the Problem has a necessary condition that the explanation must conceptually close off certain possibilities, say the possibility that the ingredient could be added yet consciousness not ignite as in a zombie, a creature without phenomenal consciousness see the entry on zombies.
Indeed, some philosophers deny the hard problem see Dennett for a recent statement. Perhaps the most common attitude for neuroscientists is to set the hard problem aside. Instead of explaining the existence of consciousness in the biological world, they set themselves to explaining generic consciousness by identifying neural properties that can turn consciousness on and off and explaining specific consciousness by identifying the neural representational basis of conscious contents.
Identifying correlates is an important first step in understanding consciousness, but it is an early step. After all, correlates are not necessarily explanatory in the sense of answering specific questions posed by neuroscience. That one does not want a mere correlate was recognized by Chalmers who defined an NCC as follows:. An NCC is a minimal neural system N such that there is a mapping from states of N to states of consciousness, where a given state of N is sufficient under conditions C , for the corresponding state of consciousness.
One wants a minimal neural system since, crudely put, the brain is sufficient for consciousness but to point this out is hardly to explain consciousness even if it provides an answer to questions about sufficiency.
The emphasis on sufficiency goes beyond mere correlation, as neuroscientists aim to answer more than the question: What is a neural correlate for conscious phenomenon C? Perhaps more specifically: What neural phenomenon is causally sufficient for consciousness? After all, assume that the NCC is type identical to a conscious state. Thus, some correlated effects will not be explanatory.
For example, citing the effects of consciousness will not provide causally sufficient conditions for consciousness. In other contexts, neuroscientists speak of the neural basis of a phenomenon where the basis does not simply correlate with the phenomenon but also explains and possibly grounds it. However, talk of correlates is entrenched in the neuroscience of consciousness, so one must remember that the goal is to find the subset of neural correlates that are explanatory, in answering concrete questions.
Reference to neural correlates in this entry will always mean neural explanatory correlate of consciousness on occasion, I will speak of these as the neural basis of consciousness. That is, our two questions about specific and generic consciousness focus the discussion on neuroscientific theories and data that contribute to explaining them.
This project allows that there are limits to neural explanations of consciousness, precisely because of the explanatory gap Levine Since studying consciousness requires that scientists track its presence, it will be important to examine various methods used in neuroscience to isolate and probe conscious states.
Scientists primarily study phenomenal consciousness through subjective reports. We can treat reports in neuroscience as conceptual in that they express how the subject recognizes things to be, whether regarding what they perceive perceptual or observational reports, as in psychophysics or regarding what mental states they are in introspective reports. Subjective reports of conscious states draw on distinctively first-personal access to that state.
The subject introspects. Introspection raises questions that science has only recently begun to address systematically in large part because of longstanding suspicion regarding introspective methods.
Introspection was judged to be an unreliable method for addressing questions about mental processing. This makes it difficult to address long-standing worries about introspective reliability regarding consciousness. In science, questions raised about the reliability of a method are answered by calibrating and testing the method.
This calibration has not been done with respect to the type of introspection commonly practiced by philosophers. A scientist might worry that philosophical introspection merely recycles rejected methods of a century ago, indeed without the stringent controls or training imposed by earlier psychologists. How can we ascertain and ensure the reliability of introspection in the empirical study of consciousness? One way to address the issue is to connect introspection to attention.
Philosophical conceptions of introspective attention construe it as capable of directly focusing on phenomenal properties and experiences.
As this idea is fleshed out, however, it is clearly not a form of attention studied by cognitive science, for the posited direct introspective attention is neither perceptual attention nor what psychologists call internal attention e. Calibrating introspection as it is used in the science of consciousness would benefit from concrete models of introspection, models we lack see Spener , for a general form of calibration.
One philosophical tradition links introspection to perceptual attention, and this allows construction of concrete models informed by science. Look at a tree and try to turn your attention to intrinsic features of your visual experience. Harman This is related to a proposal inspired by Gareth Evans : in introspecting perceptual states, say judging that one sees an object, one draws on the same perceptual capacities used to answer the question whether the object is present.
Further, the advantage of this proposal is that questions of reliability come down to questions of the reliability of psychological capacities that can be empirically assessed, say perceptual, attentional and conceptual reliability.
Introspection can be reliable. Successful clinical practice relies on accurate introspection as when dealing with pain or correcting blurry vision in optometry. The success of medical interventions suggests that patient reports of these phenomenal states are reliable.
Further, in many of the examples to be discussed, the perceptual attention-based account provides a plausible cognitive model of introspection. Subjects report on what they perceptually experience by attending to the object of their experience, and where perception and attention are reliable, a plausible hypothesis is that their introspective judgments will be reliable as well. Accordingly, I assume the reliability of introspection in the empirical studies to be discussed.
Still, given that no scientist should assert the reliability of a method without calibration, introspection must be subject to the same standards. There is more work to be done. Introspection illustrates a type of cognitive access, for a state that is introspected is access conscious. This raises a question that has epistemic implications: is access consciousness necessary for phenomenal consciousness? If it is not, then there can be phenomenal states that are not access conscious, so are in principle not reportable.
That is, phenomenal consciousness can overflow access consciousness Block Access is tied to attention.
For example, the Global Workspace theory of consciousness understands consciousness in terms of access section 3. So, the necessity of attention for phenomenal consciousness is entailed by the necessity of access for phenomenal consciousness.
Many scientists of consciousness take there to be evidence for no phenomenal consciousness without access and little if no evidence of phenomenal consciousness outside of access. An important set of studies focuses on the thesis that attention is a necessary gate for phenomenal consciousness, where attention is tied to access. Call this the gatekeeping thesis.
To assess that evidence, we must ask: what is attention? An uncontroversial conception of attention is that it is subject selection of a target to inform task performance Wu b.
The experimental studies thought to support the necessity of attention for consciousness draw on this conception. This approach tests necessity by ensuring through task performance that the subject is not attending to S.
One then measures whether the subject is aware of S by observing whether the subject reports it. If the subject does not report S , then the hypothesis is that failure of attention to S explains the failure of conscious awareness of S and hence the failure of report. During the task, a person in a gorilla costume walks across the scene.
Half of the subjects fail to notice and report the gorilla, this being construed as evidence for the absence of visual awareness of the gorilla. Hence, failure to attend to the gorilla is said to render subjects phenomenally blind to it. The gatekeeping thesis holds that attention is necessary for consciousness, so that removing it from a target eliminates consciousness of it. Yet there is a flaw in the methodology. To report a stimulus, one must attend to it, i.
The experimental logic requires eliminating attention to a stimulus S to test if attention is a necessary condition for consciousness e. Yet even if the subject were conscious of S , when attention to S is eliminated, one can predict that the subject will fail to act report on S since attention is necessary for report.
The observed results are actually consistent with the subject being conscious of S without attending to it, and thus are neutral between overflow and gatekeeping.
Instead, the experiments concern parameters for the capture of attention and not consciousness. While those antagonistic to overflow have argued that it is not empirically testable M.
After all, to test the necessity of attention for consciousness, we must eliminate attention to a target while gathering evidence for the absence of consciousness. How then can we gather the required evidence to assess competing theories?
For example, Frässle et al. They presented subjects either with stimuli moving in opposite directions or stimuli of different luminance values, one stimulus in each pair presented separately to each eye. This induces binocular rivalry, an alternation in which of the two stimuli is visually experienced see section 5. Where the stimuli involved motion, subjects demonstrated optokinetic nystagmus where the eye slowly moves in the direction of the stimulus and then makes a fast, corrective saccade ballistic eye movement in the opposite direction.
Frässle et al. observed that optokinetic nystagmus tracked the perceived direction of the stimulus as reported by the subject. Similarly, for stimuli of different luminance, the pupils would dilate, being wider for dimmer stimuli, and narrower for brighter stimuli, again correlating with subjective reports of the intensity of the stimulus.
They seem to provide a way to track phenomenal consciousness even when access is eliminated. Once it is validated, monitoring this reflex can provide a way to substitute for subjective reports within that paradigm. One cannot, however, simply extend the use of no-report paradigms outside the behavioral contexts within which the method is validated.
With each new experimental context, we must revalidate the measure with introspective report. Can we use no report paradigms to address whether access is necessary for phenomenal consciousness? A likely experiment would be one that validates no-report correlates for some conscious phenomenon P in a concrete experimental context C. With this validation in hand, one then eliminates accessibility and attention with respect to P in C.
If the no-report correlate remains, would this clearly support overflow? Perhaps, though gatekeeping theorists likely will respond that the result does not rule out the possibility that phenomenal consciousness disappears with access consciousness despite the no-report correlate remaining.
For example, the reflexive response and phenomenal consciousness might have a common cause that remains even if phenomenal consciousness is selectively eliminated by removing access.
A standard approach is to have subjects perform a task, say perceptual discrimination of a stimulus, and then indicate how confident they are that their perceptual judgment was accurate. How is metacognitive assessment of performance tied to consciousness?
The metacognitive judgment reflects introspective assessment of the quality of perceptual states and can provide information about the presence of consciousness. If subjects accurately respond to the stimulus but showed no difference in metacognitive confidence in respect of the quality of perception of the target versus of the blank, this would provide evidence of the absence of consciousness in vision effectively, blindsight in normal subjects; section 4.
Interestingly, Peters and Lau found no evidence for unconscious vision in their specific paradigm. One concern with metacognitive approaches is that they also rely on introspection Rosenthal ; see also Sandberg et al. If metacognition relies on introspection, does it not accrue all the disadvantages of the latter? One advantage of metacognition is that it allows for psychophysical analysis. There has also been work done on metacognition and its neural basis.
Alternatively, information about confidence might be read out by other structures, say prefrontal cortex see section 3. Metacognitive and introspective judgments result from intentional action, so why not look at intentional action, broadly construed, for evidence of consciousness? Often, when subjects perform perception guided actions, we infer that they are relevantly conscious.
It would be odd if a person cooks dinner and then denies having seen any of the ingredients. That they did something intentionally provides evidence that they were consciously aware of what they acted on.
An emphasis on intentional action embraces a broader evidential basis for consciousness. Consider the Intentional Action Inference to phenomenal consciousness:. If some subject acts intentionally, where her action is guided by a perceptual state, then the perceptual state is phenomenally conscious.
An epistemic version takes the action to provide good evidence that the state is conscious. Notice that introspection is typically an intentional action so it is covered by the inference. In this way, the Inference effectively levels the evidential playing field: introspective reports are simply one form among many types of intentional actions that provide evidence for consciousness.
Those reports are not privileged. The intentional action inference and no-report paradigms highlight the fact the science of consciousness has largely restricted its behavioral data to one type of intentional action, introspection. What is the basis of privileging one intentional action over others?
Consider the calibration issue. For many types of intentional action deployed in experiments, scientists can calibrate performance by objective measures such as accuracy.
This has not been done for introspection of consciousness, so scientists have privileged an uncalibrated measure over a calibrated one. This seems empirically ill-advised. On the flip side, one worry about the intentional action inference is that it ignores guidance by unconscious perceptual states see sections 4 and 5. The Intentional Action Inference is operative when subjective reports are not available. A patient in the vegetative state appears at times to be wakeful, with cycles of eye closure and eye opening resembling those of sleep and waking.
As a rule, the patient can breathe spontaneously and has a stable circulation. The state may be a transient stage in the recovery from coma or it may persist until death. Working Party RCP Unlike vegetative state patients, minimally conscious state patients seemingly perform intentional actions. Recent work suggests that some patients diagnosed as in the vegetative state are conscious. Owen et al. The commands were presented at the beginning of a thirty-second period, alternating between imagination and relax commands.
The patient demonstrated similar activity when matched to control subjects performing the same task: sustained activation of the supplementary motor area SMA was observed during the motor imagery task while sustained activation of the parahippocampal gyrus including the parahippocampal place area PPA was observed during the spatial imagery task.
Note that these tasks probe specific contents of consciousness by monitoring neural correlates of conscious imagery. In normal subjects, reading action words is known to activate sensorimotor areas Pulvermüller draw on a neural correlate of imagination, a mental action. Of note, experiments stimulating the parahippocampal place area induces seeming hallucinations of places Mégevand et al.
Deciding whether there is phenomenality in a mental representation implies putting a boundary—drawing a line—between different types of representations…We have to start from the intuition that consciousness in the phenomenal sense exists, and is a mental function in its own right. That intuition immediately implies that there is also un conscious information processing. Lamme It is uncontroversial that there is unconscious information processing, say processing occurring in a computer.
What Lamme means is that there are conscious and unconscious mental states representations. For example, there might be visual states of seeing X that are conscious or not section 4. To provide a gloss on the hypotheses: For the Global Neuronal Workspace, entry into the neural workspace is necessary and sufficient for a state or content to be consciousness.
For Recurrent Processing Theory, a type of recurrent processing in sensory areas is necessary and sufficient for perceptual consciousness, so entry into the Workspace is not necessary. For Higher-Order Theories, the presence of a higher-order state tied to prefrontal areas is necessary and sufficient for phenomenal experience, so recurrent processing in sensory areas is not necessary nor is entry into the workspace.
For Information Integration Theories, a type of integration of information is necessary and sufficient for a state to be conscious. One explanation of generic consciousness invokes the global neuronal workspace.
Notice that the previous characterization does not commit to whether it is phenomenal or access consciousness that is being defined. The accessibility of information is then defined as its potential access by other systems. Dehaene Dehaene et al. Hence, only states in 3 are conscious. Figure Legend: The top figure provides a neural architecture for the workspace, indicating the systems that can be involved. The lower figure sets the architecture within the six layers of the cortex spanning frontal and sensory areas, with emphasis on neurons in layers 2 and 3.
Figure reproduced from Dehaene, Kerszberg, and Changeux Copyright National Academy of Sciences. The global neuronal workspace theory ties access to brain architecture. It postulates a cortical structure that involves workspace neurons with long-range connections linking systems: perceptual, mnemonic, attentional, evaluational and motoric. What is the global workspace in neural terms? Long-range workspace neurons within different systems can constitute the workspace, but they should not necessarily be identified with the workspace.
A subset of workspace neurons becomes the workspace when they exemplify certain neural properties. The workspace then is not a rigid neural structure but a rapidly changing neural network, typically only a proper subset of all workspace neurons. Consider then a neural population that carries content p and is constituted by workspace neurons.
In virtue of being workspace neurons, the content p is accessible to other systems, but it does not yet follow that the neurons then constitute the global workspace. A further requirement is that workspace neurons are 1 put into an active state that must be sustained so that 2 the activation generates a recurrent activity between workspace systems. Only when these systems are recurrently activated are they, along with the units that access the information they carry, constituents of the workspace.
This activity accounts for the idea of global broadcast in that workspace contents are accessible to further systems. The global neuronal workspace theory provides an account of access consciousness but what of phenomenal consciousness? There is, however, a potential confound.
We track phenomenal consciousness by access in introspective report, so widespread activity during reports of conscious experience correlates with both access and phenomenal consciousness. Correlation cannot tell us whether the observed activity is the basis of phenomenal consciousness or of access consciousness in report Block This remains a live question for as discussed in section 2.
To eliminate the confound, experimenters ensure that performance does not differ between conditions where consciousness is present and where it is not. Still, the absence of observed activity by an imaging technique does not imply the absence of actual activity for the activity might be beyond the limits of detection of that technique. A different explanation ties perceptual consciousness to processing independent of the workspace, with focus on recurrent activity in sensory areas.
This approach emphasizes properties of first-order neural representation as explaining consciousness. Victor Lamme , argues that recurrent processing is necessary and sufficient for consciousness. Recurrent processing occurs where sensory systems are highly interconnected and involve feedforward and feedback connections.
For example, forward connections from primary visual area V1, the first cortical visual area, carry information to higher-level processing areas, and the initial registration of visual information involves a forward sweep of processing. Lamme holds that recurrent processing in Stage 3 is necessary and sufficient for consciousness.
Thus, what it is for a visual state to be conscious is for a certain recurrent processing state to hold of the relevant visual circuitry. This identifies the crucial difference between the global neuronal workspace and recurrent processing theory: the former holds that recurrent processing at Stage 4 is necessary for consciousness while the latter holds that recurrent processing at Stage 3 is sufficient.
Thus, recurrent processing theory affirms phenomenal consciousness without access by the global neuronal workspace. In that sense, it is an overflow theory see section 2. Why think that Stage 3 processing is sufficient for consciousness? Given that Stage 3 processing is not accessible to introspective report, we lack introspective evidence for sufficiency. Lamme appeals to experiments with brief presentation of stimuli such as letters where subjects are said to report seeing more than they can identify in report Lamme It is not clear that this is strong motivation for recurrent processing, since the very fact that subjects can report seeing more letters shows that they have some access to them, just not access to letter identity.
Lamme also presents what he calls neuroscience arguments. This strategy compares two neural networks, one taken to be sufficient for consciousness, say the processing at Stage 4 as per Global Workspace theories, and one where sufficiency is in dispute, say recurrent activity in Stage 3.
Lamme argues that certain features found in Stage 4 are also found in Stage 3 and given this similarity, it is reasonable to hold that Stage 3 processing suffices for consciousness. For example, both stages exhibit recurrent processing. Global neuronal workspace theorists can allow that recurrent processing in stage 3 is correlated, even necessary, but deny that this activity is explanatory in the relevant sense of identifying sufficient conditions for consciousness.
It is worth reemphasizing the empirical challenge in testing whether access is necessary for phenomenal consciousness sections 2. The two theories return different answers, one requiring access, the other denying it. As we saw, the methodological challenge in testing for the presence of phenomenal consciousness independently of access remains a hurdle for both theories.
A long-standing approach to conscious states holds that one is in a conscious state if and only if one relevantly represents oneself as being in such a state. For example, one is in a conscious visual state of seeing a moving object if and only if one suitably represents oneself being in that visual state.
The intuitive rationale for such theories is that if one were in a visual state but in no way aware of that state, then the visual state would not be conscious. Thus, to be in a conscious state, one must be aware of it, i.
Higher-order theories merge with empirical work by tying high-order representations with activity in prefrontal cortex which is taken to be the neural substrate of the required higher-order representations. On certain higher-order theories, one can be in a conscious visual state even if there is no visual system activity, so long as one represents oneself as being in that state.
For example, on the higher-order theory, lesions to prefrontal cortex should affect consciousness Kozuch , testing the necessity of prefrontal cortex for consciousness.
Against higher-order theories, some reports claim that patients with prefrontal cortex surgically removed maintain preserved perceptual consciousness Boly et al. This would lend support to recurrent processing theories that hold that prefrontal cortical activity is not necessary for consciousness. Bilateral suppression of prefrontal activity using transcranial magnetic stimulation also seems to selectively impair visibility as evidenced by metacognitive report Rounis et al.
Information Integration Theory of Consciousness IIT draws on the notion of integrated information , symbolized by Φ, as a way to explain generic consciousness Tononi , IIT defines integrated information in terms of the effective information carried by the parts of the system in light of its causal profile.
For example, we can focus on a part of the whole circuit, say two connected nodes, and compute the effective information that can be carried by this microcircuit. The system carries integrated information if the effective informational content of the whole is greater than the sum of the informational content of the parts.
If there is no partitioning where the summed informational content of the parts equals the whole, then the system as a whole carries integrated information and it has a positive value for Φ. Amid rising prices and economic uncertainty—as well as deep partisan divisions over social and political issues—Californians are processing a great deal of information to help them choose state constitutional officers and state legislators and to make policy decisions about state propositions.
The midterm election also features a closely divided Congress, with the likelihood that a few races in California may determine which party controls the US House.
These are among the key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues conducted from October 14 to 23 by the Public Policy Institute of California:. Today, there is a wide partisan divide: seven in ten Democrats are optimistic about the direction of the state, while 91 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents are pessimistic.
Californians are much more pessimistic about the direction of the country than they are about the direction of the state. Majorities across all demographic groups and partisan groups, as well as across regions, are pessimistic about the direction of the United States. A wide partisan divide exists: most Democrats and independents say their financial situation is about the same as a year ago, while solid majorities of Republicans say they are worse off.
Regionally, about half in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles say they are about the same, while half in the Central Valley say they are worse off; residents elsewhere are divided between being worse off and the same.
The shares saying they are worse off decline as educational attainment increases. Strong majorities across partisan groups feel negatively, but Republicans and independents are much more likely than Democrats to say the economy is in poor shape. Today, majorities across partisan, demographic, and regional groups say they are following news about the gubernatorial election either very or fairly closely.
In the upcoming November 8 election, there will be seven state propositions for voters. Due to time constraints, our survey only asked about three ballot measures: Propositions 26, 27, and For each, we read the proposition number, ballot, and ballot label.
Two of the state ballot measures were also included in the September survey Propositions 27 and 30 , while Proposition 26 was not. This measure would allow in-person sports betting at racetracks and tribal casinos, requiring that racetracks and casinos offering sports betting make certain payments to the state to support state regulatory costs. It also allows roulette and dice games at tribal casinos and adds a new way to enforce certain state gambling laws.
Fewer than half of likely voters say the outcome of each of these state propositions is very important to them. Today, 21 percent of likely voters say the outcome of Prop 26 is very important, 31 percent say the outcome of Prop 27 is very important, and 42 percent say the outcome of Prop 30 is very important.
Today, when it comes to the importance of the outcome of Prop 26, one in four or fewer across partisan groups say it is very important to them. About one in three across partisan groups say the outcome of Prop 27 is very important to them.
Fewer than half across partisan groups say the outcome of Prop 30 is very important to them. When asked how they would vote if the election for the US House of Representatives were held today, 56 percent of likely voters say they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate, while 39 percent would vote for or lean toward the Republican candidate. Democratic candidates are preferred by a point margin in Democratic-held districts, while Republican candidates are preferred by a point margin in Republican-held districts.
Abortion is another prominent issue in this election. When asked about the importance of abortion rights, 61 percent of likely voters say the issue is very important in determining their vote for Congress and another 20 percent say it is somewhat important; just 17 percent say it is not too or not at all important.
With the controlling party in Congress hanging in the balance, 51 percent of likely voters say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for Congress this year; another 29 percent are somewhat enthusiastic while 19 percent are either not too or not at all enthusiastic. Today, Democrats and Republicans have about equal levels of enthusiasm, while independents are much less likely to be extremely or very enthusiastic. As Californians prepare to vote in the upcoming midterm election, fewer than half of adults and likely voters are satisfied with the way democracy is working in the United States—and few are very satisfied.
Satisfaction was higher in our February survey when 53 percent of adults and 48 percent of likely voters were satisfied with democracy in America. Today, half of Democrats and about four in ten independents are satisfied, compared to about one in five Republicans. Notably, four in ten Republicans are not at all satisfied.
In addition to the lack of satisfaction with the way democracy is working, Californians are divided about whether Americans of different political positions can still come together and work out their differences. Forty-nine percent are optimistic, while 46 percent are pessimistic. Today, in a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, about four in ten Democrats, Republicans, and independents are optimistic that Americans of different political views will be able to come together.
Notably, in , half or more across parties, regions, and demographic groups were optimistic. Today, about eight in ten Democrats—compared to about half of independents and about one in ten Republicans—approve of Governor Newsom. Across demographic groups, about half or more approve of how Governor Newsom is handling his job. Approval of Congress among adults has been below 40 percent for all of after seeing a brief run above 40 percent for all of Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to approve of Congress.
Fewer than half across regions and demographic groups approve of Congress. Approval in March was at 44 percent for adults and 39 percent for likely voters. Across demographic groups, about half or more approve among women, younger adults, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos.
Views are similar across education and income groups, with just fewer than half approving. Approval in March was at 41 percent for adults and 36 percent for likely voters. Across regions, approval reaches a majority only in the San Francisco Bay Area. Across demographic groups, approval reaches a majority only among African Americans. This map highlights the five geographic regions for which we present results; these regions account for approximately 90 percent of the state population.
Residents of other geographic areas in gray are included in the results reported for all adults, registered voters, and likely voters, but sample sizes for these less-populous areas are not large enough to report separately.
The PPIC Statewide Survey is directed by Mark Baldassare, president and CEO and survey director at the Public Policy Institute of California.
Coauthors of this report include survey analyst Deja Thomas, who was the project manager for this survey; associate survey director and research fellow Dean Bonner; and survey analyst Rachel Lawler.
The Californians and Their Government survey is supported with funding from the Arjay and Frances F. Findings in this report are based on a survey of 1, California adult residents, including 1, interviewed on cell phones and interviewed on landline telephones. The sample included respondents reached by calling back respondents who had previously completed an interview in PPIC Statewide Surveys in the last six months.
Interviews took an average of 19 minutes to complete. Interviewing took place on weekend days and weekday nights from October 14—23, Cell phone interviews were conducted using a computer-generated random sample of cell phone numbers. Additionally, we utilized a registration-based sample RBS of cell phone numbers for adults who are registered to vote in California. All cell phone numbers with California area codes were eligible for selection. After a cell phone user was reached, the interviewer verified that this person was age 18 or older, a resident of California, and in a safe place to continue the survey e.
Cell phone respondents were offered a small reimbursement to help defray the cost of the call. Cell phone interviews were conducted with adults who have cell phone service only and with those who have both cell phone and landline service in the household. Landline interviews were conducted using a computer-generated random sample of telephone numbers that ensured that both listed and unlisted numbers were called.
Additionally, we utilized a registration-based sample RBS of landline phone numbers for adults who are registered to vote in California. All landline telephone exchanges in California were eligible for selection.
For both cell phones and landlines, telephone numbers were called as many as eight times. When no contact with an individual was made, calls to a number were limited to six. Also, to increase our ability to interview Asian American adults, we made up to three additional calls to phone numbers estimated by Survey Sampling International as likely to be associated with Asian American individuals.
Accent on Languages, Inc. The survey sample was closely comparable to the ACS figures. To estimate landline and cell phone service in California, Abt Associates used state-level estimates released by the National Center for Health Statistics—which used data from the National Health Interview Survey NHIS and the ACS.
The estimates for California were then compared against landline and cell phone service reported in this survey. We also used voter registration data from the California Secretary of State to compare the party registration of registered voters in our sample to party registration statewide. The sampling error, taking design effects from weighting into consideration, is ±3.
This means that 95 times out of , the results will be within 3. The sampling error for unweighted subgroups is larger: for the 1, registered voters, the sampling error is ±4.
For the sampling errors of additional subgroups, please see the table at the end of this section.
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