The Influence of Partisan Motivated Reasoning on Public Opinion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

154 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Political parties play a vital role in democracies by linking citizens to their representatives. Nonetheless, a longstanding concern is that partisan identification slants decision-making. Citizens may support (oppose) policies that they would otherwise oppose (support) in the absence of an endorsement from a political party-this is due in large part to what is called partisan motivated reasoning where individuals interpret information through the lens of their party commitment. We explore partisan motivated reasoning in a survey experiment focusing on support for an energy law. We identify two politically relevant factors that condition partisan motivated reasoning: (1) an explicit inducement to form an "accurate" opinion, and (2) cross-partisan, but not consensus, bipartisan support for the law. We further provide evidence of how partisan motivated reasoning works psychologically and affects opinion strength. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for understanding opinion formation and the overall quality of citizens' opinions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-262
Number of pages28
JournalPolitical Behavior
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Fingerprint

public opinion
citizen
opinion formation
Law
commitment
democracy
energy
decision making
experiment
evidence

Keywords

  • Experiment
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Parties
  • Partisan trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

@article{ee9cbcd362a44ae0a5525862cd13db18,
title = "The Influence of Partisan Motivated Reasoning on Public Opinion",
abstract = "Political parties play a vital role in democracies by linking citizens to their representatives. Nonetheless, a longstanding concern is that partisan identification slants decision-making. Citizens may support (oppose) policies that they would otherwise oppose (support) in the absence of an endorsement from a political party-this is due in large part to what is called partisan motivated reasoning where individuals interpret information through the lens of their party commitment. We explore partisan motivated reasoning in a survey experiment focusing on support for an energy law. We identify two politically relevant factors that condition partisan motivated reasoning: (1) an explicit inducement to form an {"}accurate{"} opinion, and (2) cross-partisan, but not consensus, bipartisan support for the law. We further provide evidence of how partisan motivated reasoning works psychologically and affects opinion strength. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for understanding opinion formation and the overall quality of citizens' opinions.",
keywords = "Experiment, Motivated reasoning, Parties, Partisan trust",
author = "Toby Bolsen and Druckman, {James N} and Cook, {Fay Lomax}",
year = "2014",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s11109-013-9238-0",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "36",
pages = "235--262",
journal = "Political Behavior",
issn = "0190-9320",
publisher = "Springer New York",
number = "2",

}

The Influence of Partisan Motivated Reasoning on Public Opinion. / Bolsen, Toby; Druckman, James N; Cook, Fay Lomax.

In: Political Behavior, Vol. 36, No. 2, 01.01.2014, p. 235-262.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Influence of Partisan Motivated Reasoning on Public Opinion

AU - Bolsen, Toby

AU - Druckman, James N

AU - Cook, Fay Lomax

PY - 2014/1/1

Y1 - 2014/1/1

N2 - Political parties play a vital role in democracies by linking citizens to their representatives. Nonetheless, a longstanding concern is that partisan identification slants decision-making. Citizens may support (oppose) policies that they would otherwise oppose (support) in the absence of an endorsement from a political party-this is due in large part to what is called partisan motivated reasoning where individuals interpret information through the lens of their party commitment. We explore partisan motivated reasoning in a survey experiment focusing on support for an energy law. We identify two politically relevant factors that condition partisan motivated reasoning: (1) an explicit inducement to form an "accurate" opinion, and (2) cross-partisan, but not consensus, bipartisan support for the law. We further provide evidence of how partisan motivated reasoning works psychologically and affects opinion strength. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for understanding opinion formation and the overall quality of citizens' opinions.

AB - Political parties play a vital role in democracies by linking citizens to their representatives. Nonetheless, a longstanding concern is that partisan identification slants decision-making. Citizens may support (oppose) policies that they would otherwise oppose (support) in the absence of an endorsement from a political party-this is due in large part to what is called partisan motivated reasoning where individuals interpret information through the lens of their party commitment. We explore partisan motivated reasoning in a survey experiment focusing on support for an energy law. We identify two politically relevant factors that condition partisan motivated reasoning: (1) an explicit inducement to form an "accurate" opinion, and (2) cross-partisan, but not consensus, bipartisan support for the law. We further provide evidence of how partisan motivated reasoning works psychologically and affects opinion strength. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for understanding opinion formation and the overall quality of citizens' opinions.

KW - Experiment

KW - Motivated reasoning

KW - Parties

KW - Partisan trust

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84901037027&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84901037027&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11109-013-9238-0

DO - 10.1007/s11109-013-9238-0

M3 - Article

VL - 36

SP - 235

EP - 262

JO - Political Behavior

JF - Political Behavior

SN - 0190-9320

IS - 2

ER -