Partisan Ambivalence and Preference Formation

Howard G. Lavine, Christopher D. Johnston and Marco R. Steenbergen

in The Ambivalent Partisan

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199772759
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979622 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Partisan Ambivalence and Preference Formation

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Chapter 4 provides an initial test of the model utilizing both experimental and survey-based methods. Two studies are reported in which partisan ambivalence itself is experimentally manipulated through random assignment. This is the strongest test of the causal role of ambivalence on political judgment in the entire book. Results indicate that situationally-induced ambivalence reduces reflexive partisan cue-taking and increases attention to the actual content of public policy proposals. Following the experimental section, the chapter replicates this dynamic in the context of nationally representative survey panel data. The chapter shows that ambivalent partisans rely less on party, and more on material interests and core political values in forming preferences over public policy issues. The chapter concludes with an analysis of heterogeneity in the bases of ideological constraint. Here, the chapter shows that ambivalent partisans organize their economic policy preferences around the core value of limited government, whereas univalent partisans organize their preferences on the basis of partisan identity.

Keywords: preference formation; political values; public policy; ideological constraint

Chapter.  13321 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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