Context Effects on Self-Perceptions of Interest in Government and Public Affairs
Previous experiments have shown that when people are asked a question about how interested they are in politics, their answers can be significantly affected by the context in which the question is asked. When asked, for example, how much they “…follow what’s going on in government and public affairs…,” people are much less likely to say they follow such matters “most of the time” if they are asked about it immediately after being unable to answer some rather difficult questions about their United States Congressman’s record than if they are asked about it before such questions (see Bishop et al., 1982, 1984b). Similarly, when asked how interested they were “…in following the political campaigns…,” people were significantly more likely to say they were “very interested” when asked about it immediately after, rather than before, giving answers to several questions about the 1980 presidential election campaign, answers that implied that they were quite interested in following the political campaigns that year (see Bishop, Oldendick, & Tuchfarber, 1982, 1984a). Such is the influence of question order and context on people’s self-perceptions.
KeywordsContext Effect Public Affair Political Knowledge Cable Television Conditional Inference
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