, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 309-325

Assessments of group influence, subjective political competence, and interest group membership

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This research examines the relationship between citizens' assessments of how much influence the group they identify with is able to exercise in American politics and their subjective political competence and political participation. Appraisals of group influence have a powerful effect on subjective political competence, fulfilling theoretical expectations outlined by Leon Festinger many years ago. Moreover, assessments of group influence affect individuals' decision concerning membership in an interest group that promotes the interest of one's reference group. The work reported here is an improvement over past efforts in that it explicitly defines and assesses the causal importance of a concept that has been featured in prior research.