The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Fictitious issues revisited: political knowledge, interest, and the generation of nonattitudes

Fictitious issues revisited: political knowledge, interest, and the generation of nonattitudes
Fictitious issues revisited: political knowledge, interest, and the generation of nonattitudes
It has long been suspected that, when asked to provide opinions on matters of public policy, significant numbers of those surveyed do so with only the vaguest understanding of the issues in question. In this article, we present the results of a study which demonstrates that a significant minority of the British public are, in fact, willing to provide evaluations of non-existent policy issues.

In contrast to previous American research, which has found such responses to be most prevalent among the less educated, we find that the tendency to provide 'pseudo-opinions' is positively correlated with self-reported interest in politics. This effect is itself moderated by the context in which the political interest item is administered; when this question precedes the fictitious issue item, its effect is greater than when this order is reversed.

Political knowledge, on the other hand, is associated with a lower probability of providing pseudo-opinions, though this effect is weaker than that observed for political interest. Our results support the view that responses to fictitious issue items are not generated at random, via some 'mental coin flip'. Instead, respondents actively seek out what they consider to be the likely meaning of the question and then respond in their own terms, through the filter of partisan loyalties and current political discourses
0032-3217
66-84
Sturgis, Patrick
b9f6b40c-50d2-4117-805a-577b501d0b3c
Smith, Patten
a4bae730-e2b6-4982-b3f7-b3b2d186d37b
Sturgis, Patrick
b9f6b40c-50d2-4117-805a-577b501d0b3c
Smith, Patten
a4bae730-e2b6-4982-b3f7-b3b2d186d37b

Sturgis, Patrick and Smith, Patten (2010) Fictitious issues revisited: political knowledge, interest, and the generation of nonattitudes. Political Studies, 58 (1), 66-84. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.2008.00773.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

It has long been suspected that, when asked to provide opinions on matters of public policy, significant numbers of those surveyed do so with only the vaguest understanding of the issues in question. In this article, we present the results of a study which demonstrates that a significant minority of the British public are, in fact, willing to provide evaluations of non-existent policy issues.

In contrast to previous American research, which has found such responses to be most prevalent among the less educated, we find that the tendency to provide 'pseudo-opinions' is positively correlated with self-reported interest in politics. This effect is itself moderated by the context in which the political interest item is administered; when this question precedes the fictitious issue item, its effect is greater than when this order is reversed.

Political knowledge, on the other hand, is associated with a lower probability of providing pseudo-opinions, though this effect is weaker than that observed for political interest. Our results support the view that responses to fictitious issue items are not generated at random, via some 'mental coin flip'. Instead, respondents actively seek out what they consider to be the likely meaning of the question and then respond in their own terms, through the filter of partisan loyalties and current political discourses

PDF
2010_Fictitious_issues_revisited_political_interest,_knowledge_and_the_generation_of_nonattitudes.pdf - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only
Request a copy

More information

Published date: 2010

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 150081
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/150081
ISSN: 0032-3217
PURE UUID: 189a114f-b549-48bb-b0e2-e682daec0223
ORCID for Patrick Sturgis: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1180-3493

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 May 2010 10:51
Last modified: 15 Jan 2019 01:33

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Patrick Sturgis ORCID iD
Author: Patten Smith

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×