Attitudes toward presidential candidates and political parties: Initial optimism, inertial first impressions, and a focus on flaws

Allyson L. Holbrook*, Jon A. Krosnick, Penny S. Visser, Wendi L. Gardner, John T. Cacioppo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most models of how citizens combine information about political candidates into attitudes toward them presume that symmetric linear additive processes are at work. We propose a model (called the ANM) in which the impact of favorable and unfavorable beliefs on attitudes is asymmetric and nonlinear. Cross-sectional national survey data (from 1972 to 1996) show that this model describes attitudes toward presidential candidates and political parties better than a symmetric linear model (SLM) among respondents high and low in political involvement. Longitudinal survey data (collected between 1980 and 1996) show that attitudes are derived from favorable and unfavorable beliefs in ways consistent with the ANM. And the ANM revealed that voter turnout is enhanced by a stronger preference for a citizen's preferred candidate if at least one candidate is disliked, whereas the SLM failed to detect this effect. These findings have important implications for understanding the impact of election campaigns on citizens' preferences and actions and for understanding the ingredients of vote choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-950
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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