, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 41-58

On-line processing in candidate evaluation: The effects of issue order, issue importance, and sophistication

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This article reports the results of a study that replicates and extends the impression-driven model of candidate evaluation reported in Lodge, McGraw, and Stroh (1989). This model holds that evaluations are formed and updated on-line as information is encountered, and that as a result, citizens need not rely on specific information available from memory to form their candidate evaluations. In the present work we explore whether the order in which information is encountered, as well as whether information that is personally important, influences the weight accorded to evidence in on-line processing. In addition, differences in information-processing strategies due to political sophistication are examined. The results indicate that important information receives more weight than unimportant information. In addition, the evidence suggests that political sophisticates are more efficient on-line processors than are less sophisticated individuals. The implications of these results for models of candidate evaluation are discussed.