Political Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 89–112 | Cite as

Political Information, Political Involvement, and Reliance on Ideology in Political Evaluation

Original Paper

Abstract

Many studies have focused on the relationship between political information and the use of ideology. Here, we argue that two “evaluative motivations”—general investment of the self in politics and extremity of partisanship—serve as moderators of this relationship. Specifically, we use data from two recent national surveys to test whether the possession of information is more strongly associated with a tendency to approach politics in an ideological fashion among individuals high in both types of evaluative motivation. Results supported this hypothesis, revealing that information was more strongly associated with ideological constraint and with a tendency to give polarized evaluations of conservatives and liberals among those who highly invest the self in politics and those with more extreme partisanship. As such, this study suggests that information and involvement interact to shape the use of ideology.

Keywords

Ideology Political expertise Political involvement 

Supplementary material

11109_2011_9184_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (86 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 87 kb)

References

  1. Abramowitz, A. I. (2010). The disappearing center: Engaged Citizens, polarization and American democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Abramowitz, A. I., & Saunders, K. L. (1998). Ideological realignment in the U.S. electorate. Journal of Politics, 60, 634–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abramowitz, A. I., & Saunders, K. L. (2008). Is polarization a myth? Journal of Politics, 70, 542–555.Google Scholar
  4. Achen, C. H., & Bartels, L. M. ( 2006). It feels like we’re thinking: The rationalizing voter and electoral democracy. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  5. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  6. Althaus, S. (1998). Information effects in collective preferences. American Political Science Review, 92, 545–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Althaus, S. (2001). Who’s voted in when the people tune out? information effects in congressional elections. In R. P. Hart & D. Shaw (Eds.), Communication in U.S. elections: New agendas. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Baldassarri, D., & Gelman, A. (2008). Partisans without constraint: political polarization and trends in American public opinion. American Journal of Sociology, 114, 408–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bartels, L. M. (1996). Uninformed votes: Information effects in presidential elections. American Journal of Political Science, 40, 194–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barton, A. H., & Parsons, R. W. (1977). Measuring belief system structure. Public Opinion Quarterly, 41, 159–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bennett, S. (1989). ‘Know-nothings’ revisited: The meaning of political ignorance today. Social Science Quarterly, 69, 476–490.Google Scholar
  12. Bennett, S. (2006). Democratic competence, before converse and after. Critical Review, 18, 105–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bizer, G. Y., Krosnick, J. A., Holbrook, A. L., Wheeler, S. C., Rucker, D., & Petty, R. E. (2004). The impact of personality on cognitive, behavioral, and affective political processes: The effects of the need to evaluate. Journal of Personality, 72, 995–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boninger, D. S., Krosnick, J. A., Berent, M. K., & Fabrigar, L. R. (1995). The causes and consequences of attitude importance. In R. E. Petty & J. A. Krosnick (Eds.), Attitude strength: Antecedents and consequences (pp. 159–189). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., Feinstein, J. A., Blair, W., & Jarvis, G. (1996). Dispositional differences in cognitive motivation: The life and times of individuals varying in need for cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 197–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Callegaro, M., & DiSogra, C. (2008). Computing response metrics for online panels. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72, 1008–1032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Chang, L., & Krosnick, J. A. (2002). RDD telephone vs. Internet survey methodology for studying American presidential elections: comparing sample representativeness and response quality. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  19. Cohen, G. L. (2003). Party over policy: The dominating impact of group influence on political beliefs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 808–822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Converse, P. (1964). The Nature of belief systems in mass publics. In D. Apter (Ed.), Ideology and discontent. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  21. Converse, P. (2000). Assessing the capacity of mass electorates. Annual Review of Political Science, 3, 331–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Delli Carpini, M. X., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Eagly, A., & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  24. Federico, C. M. (2004). Predicting attitude extremity: The interactive effects of schema development and the need to evaluate–and their mediation by evaluative integration. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1281–1294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Federico, C. M. (2007). Expertise, evaluative motivation, and the structure of citizens’ ideological commitments. Political Psychology, 28, 535–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Federico, C. M., & Schneider, M. (2007). Political expertise and the use of ideology: Moderating effects of evaluative motivation. Public Opinion Quarterly, 71, 221–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fiske, S. T., Lau, R. R., & Smith, R. A. (1990). On the varieties and utilities of political expertise. Social Cognition, 8, 31–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ganzach, Y. (1997). Misleading interaction and curvilinear terms. Psychological Methods, 2, 235–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gilens, M. (2001). Political ignorance and collective policy preferences. American Political Science Review, 95, 379–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goren, P., Federico, C. M., & Kittilson, M. C. (2009). Source cues, partisan identities, and value positions. American Journal of Political Science, 53, 806–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Green, D., Palmquist, B., & Schickler, E. (2002). Partisan hearts and minds: political parties and the social identities of voters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Greene, S. (1999). Understanding party identification: A social identity approach. Political Psychology, 20(2), 393–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hagner, P. R., & Pierce, J. C. (1982). Correlative characteristics of levels of conceptualization. Journal of Politics, 44, 779–807.Google Scholar
  34. Hamill, R., Lodge, M., & Blake, F. (1985). The Breadth, depth, and utility of partisan, class, and ideological schemas. American Journal of Political Science, 29, 850–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hillygus, D. S., & Shields, T. G. (2008). The persuadable voter: Wedge issues in presidential campaigns. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Huggins, V., & Eyerman, J. (2001). Probability based internet surveys: A synopsis of early methods and survey research results. Presented at the Conference of the Federal Committee on Survey Methods.Google Scholar
  37. Jaccard, J., & Turrisi, R. (2003). Interaction effects in multiple regression. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  38. Jacoby, W. G. (1989). The sources of liberal-conservative thinking. Political Behavior, 10, 316–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jacoby, W. G. (1991). Ideological identification and issue attitudes. American Journal of Political Science, 35, 178–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jacoby, W. G. (1995). The structure of ideological thinking in the American electorate. American Journal of Political Science, 39, 314–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jarvis, W. B. G., & Petty, R. E. (1996). The need to evaluate. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 172–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jennings, M. K. (1992). Ideological thinking among mass publics and political elites. Public Opinion Quarterly, 56, 419–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Judd, C. M., & Krosnick, J. A. (1989). The structural bases of consistency among political attitudes: Effects of expertise and attitude importance. In A. R. Pratkanis, S. J. Breckler, & A. G. Greenwald (Eds.), Attitude structure and function (pp. 99–128). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  44. Judd, C. M., Krosnick, J. A., & Milburn, M. A. (1981). Political involvement and attitude structure in the general public. American Sociological Review, 46, 660–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kinder, D. R., & Sears, D. O. (1985). Public opinion and political action. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 659–741). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  46. Lavine, H., Borgida, E., & Sullivan, J. L. (2000). On the relationship between attitude involvement and attitude accessibility: Toward a cognitive-motivational model of political information processing. Political Psychology, 21, 81–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Long, J. S., & Ervin, L. H. (2000). Using heteroscedasticity-consistent standard errors in the linear regression model. American Statistician, 54, 217–234.Google Scholar
  48. Luhtanen, R., & Crocker, J. (1992). A collective self-esteem scale: Self-evaluation of one’s social identity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 302–318.Google Scholar
  49. Luskin, R. C. (1990). Explaining political sophistication. Political Behavior, 12, 331–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McClosky, H., & Zaller, J. (1984). The American ethos. Harvard: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Nie, N. H., Verba, S., & Petrocik, J. (1976). The changing American voter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1979). Issue involvement can increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing message-relevant cognitive responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1915–1926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sidanius, J., & Lau, R. R. (1989). Political sophistication and political deviance: A matter of context. Political Psychology, 10, 85–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sniderman, P. M., Brody, R. A., & Tetlock, P. E. (1991). Reasoning and choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Stimson, J. A. (1975). Belief systems: Constraint, complexity and the 1972 election. American Journal of Political Science, 19, 393–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stimson, J. A. (2004). Tides of consent: How public opinion shapes American politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Thomsen, C. J., Borgida, E., & Lavine, H. (1995). The causes and consequences of personal involvement. In R. E. Petty & J. A. Krosnick (Eds.), Attitude strength and consequences (pp. 191–214). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Publishers.Google Scholar
  58. Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and Political ScienceUniversity of Minnesota, Twin CitiesMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Hart Research AssociatesWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations