The Centrality of Policy Principles

Paul Goren

in On Voter Competence

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396140
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979301 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

The Centrality of Policy Principles

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This chapter tests the proposition that policy principles are central heuristics in mass belief systems. If policy principles act as heuristics, they should constrain issue preferences in a top-down manner without being constrained by them. The chapter employs 1992–94–96 NES panel data to unpack the temporal dynamics between policy principles and issue preferences. Next, if sophistication is not a prerequisite for calling upon principles, all citizens should invoke these when evaluating political controversies. Data from the 1988–2008 NES cross-sectional surveys are used to verify this claim. Finally, if policy principles are central idea elements in mass belief systems, their power to shape issue judgments should eclipse that of cues like party identification. The cross-sectional data are used to check this claim as well. The analyses demonstrate that limited government, traditional morality, and military strength serve as powerful heuristics for all citizens. All citizens thus satisfy the centrality condition of policy voting.

Keywords: attitude centrally; constraint; heuristics; panel data

Chapter.  10728 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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