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The Stucture of Public Knowledge About Policy Issues: Issue Public Membership Instigates Issue-Specific Expertise

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Abstract:

People who attach personal importance to an attitude are especially knowledgeable about the attitude object. In this paper, we describe nine studies testing an explanation for this relation: that importance causes the accumulation of knowledge by inspiring selective exposure to and selective elaboration of relevant information. Study One showed that after watching televised debates between presidential candidates, viewers were better able to remember the statements made on policy issues on which they had more personally important attitudes. Studies 2-4 showed that importance motivated selective exposure and selective elaboration: when given the opportunity to choose, people chose to acquire information about policies toward which they had more personally important attitudes, and they chose to think more about these policies. Studies 5-8 showed that greater personal importance was associated with better memory for relevant information encountered under controlled laboratory conditions and that manipulations eliminating opportunities for selective exposure and selective elaboration eliminated the importance-memory accuracy relation. Study 9 showed that people do not use perceptions of their knowledge volume to infer how important an attitude is to them but that importance does cause knowledge accumulation. These findings help to clarify the impact of attitude importance on information processing and refine our understanding of the relation between attitudes and memory.
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Name: American Political Science Association
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MLA Citation:

Krosnick, Jon., Berent, Matthew., Holbrook, Allyson., Visser, Penny. and Boninger, David. "The Stucture of Public Knowledge About Policy Issues: Issue Public Membership Instigates Issue-Specific Expertise" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Sep 02, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60788_index.html>

APA Citation:

Krosnick, J. A., Berent, M. K., Holbrook, A. , Visser, P. S. and Boninger, D. , 2004-09-02 "The Stucture of Public Knowledge About Policy Issues: Issue Public Membership Instigates Issue-Specific Expertise" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL Online <PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p60788_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: People who attach personal importance to an attitude are especially knowledgeable about the attitude object. In this paper, we describe nine studies testing an explanation for this relation: that importance causes the accumulation of knowledge by inspiring selective exposure to and selective elaboration of relevant information. Study One showed that after watching televised debates between presidential candidates, viewers were better able to remember the statements made on policy issues on which they had more personally important attitudes. Studies 2-4 showed that importance motivated selective exposure and selective elaboration: when given the opportunity to choose, people chose to acquire information about policies toward which they had more personally important attitudes, and they chose to think more about these policies. Studies 5-8 showed that greater personal importance was associated with better memory for relevant information encountered under controlled laboratory conditions and that manipulations eliminating opportunities for selective exposure and selective elaboration eliminated the importance-memory accuracy relation. Study 9 showed that people do not use perceptions of their knowledge volume to infer how important an attitude is to them but that importance does cause knowledge accumulation. These findings help to clarify the impact of attitude importance on information processing and refine our understanding of the relation between attitudes and memory.

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Associated Document Available Political Research Online

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