What Happens When We Simultaneously Want Opposite Things? Ambivalence about Social Welfare
Since the New Deal, issues relating to social welfare policy have created a divide in the United States. This divide has been a defining characteristic of party politics at both the elite (Sinclair 1978; Barrett and Cook 1991; Ansolabehere, Snyder, and Stewart 2001) and mass levels (Berelson, Lazarsfeld, and McPhee 1954; Campbell et al. 1960; more recently, see Green, Palmquist, and Schickler 2002; Stonecash 2000; Layman and Carsey 2002) for over seven decades. It has been suggested, however, that many Americans are internally torn between the contending sides of governmental activism versus governmental restraint, especially with regard to spending programs that provide benefits to individual citizens, disadvan-taged or otherwise (Cantril and Cantril 1999; Feldman and Zaller 1992; Hodson, Maio, and Esses 2001). The present study takes a closer look at this ambivalence, which is said to exist whenever someone simultaneously possesses both positive and negative evaluations of an attitude object (Alvarez and Brehm 1995; Zaller 1992; Zaller and Feldman 1992; Eagly and Chaiken 1993).
KeywordsSocial Welfare Government Spending Policy Preference Attitude Object Government Size
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