Context Effects on Self-Perceptions of Interest in Government and Public Affairs

  • George F. Bishop
Part of the Recent Research in Psychology book series (PSYCHOLOGY)


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.


Context Effect Public Affair Political Knowledge Cable Television Conditional Inference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bern, D.J. (1978). Self -perception theory. In L. Berkowitz, (Ed.), Cognitive theories in social psychology. New York: Academic PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Bishop, G.F., Oldendick, R.W., & Tuchfarber, A.J., (1982). Political information processing: Question order and context effects. Political Behavior, 4, 177–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bishop, G.F., Oldendick, R.W., & Tuchfarber, A.J., (1984a). Interest in political campaigns: The influence of question order and electoral context. Political Behavior, 6, 159–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bishop, G.F., Oldendick, R.W., & Tuchfarber, A.J., (1984b). What must my interest in politics be if I just told you’I don’t know’? Public opinion Quarterly, 48, 510–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Heisenberg, W. (1974). Across the frontiers. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  6. Loftus, G.R., & Loftus, E.F. (1976). Human memory; The processing of information. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Miller, W.E. (1978). American National Election Study, 1978, Ann Arbor, Ml: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  8. Schuman, H., Kalton, G., & Ludwig, J. (1983). Context and contiguity in survey questionnaires. Public Opinion Quarterly. 47, 112–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Schuman, H., & Presser, S. (1981). Questions and answers in attitude surveys. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  10. Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1981). Manipulating salience: Causal assessment in natural settings. Personality and Social Psychologv Bulletin. 6, 554–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Wyer, R.S., Jr., & Hartwick, J. (1980). The role of information retrieval and conditional inference processes in belief formation and change. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.) Advances in experimental social psychology. Vol.13. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Wyer, R.S., Jr., & Srull, T.K. (1981). Category accessibility: Some theoretical and empirical issues concerning the processing of social stimulus information. In E.T. Higgins, C.P. Herman, & M.P. Zanna (Eds.) Social cognition; The Ontario symposium, Vol. 1 Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Ass.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • George F. Bishop
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CincinnatiUSA

Personalised recommendations