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Information and Institutional Evaluation: A Cross-Institutional Analysis

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Abstract:

In this paper, we examine the
extent to which exposure to context-specific information, in both
congressional and Supreme Court decision settings, influences people’s
institutional evaluation judgments. Although there is a considerable
amount research on institutional evaluation of the Supreme Court and
Congress separately, very little work has been done directly comparing
the dynamics of opinion formation for the two. In fact, two lines of
research on Congress and the Court, respectively, provide two competing
empirical implications of the role of information on institutional
evaluation. First, Hibbing and Theiss-Morse’s (1995, 2002) work on
congressional evaluations produces the implication that the more people
are exposed to the processes of Congress, the more likely they will be
exposed to the “sausage” that is the policymaking process, which then
leads to a greater likelihood of negative evaluations. On the other
hand, research on the Supreme Court (e.g., Casey 1974; Caldeira and
Gibson 1992; Gibson et al. 1998) has produced evidence supporting the
contention, to know the Court is to love it. That is, to “know” the
Court is to be exposed to the legitimating symbols by which the Court
is surrounded, which in turn leads to more positive evaluations. Thus,
regarding the role of information, two competing models of evaluation
exist: (1) To know Congress is to hate it, and (2) to know the Supreme
Court is to love it. This paper confronts these two competing models of
evaluation with an explicit cross-institutional focus in an attempt to
provide a unified account of the impact of information on institutional
evaluation. First, we posit a model explaining the processes by which
citizens translate information they consume from an institutional
decision-making context into an institutional evaluation judgment. In
particular, we argue that the information they receive about the
decision setting is pivotal in generating a perception-expectations gap
(via Kimball and Patterson 1997), which then exhibits a direct
influence on one’s evaluation judgments. We account for moderators of
this process such as issue importance and sophistication. We test the
implications of the model using a cross-institutional experimental
design that manipulates three types of information about an
institutional decision setting: (1) partisanship or ideological
division, (2) procedural fairness, and (3) civility. Importantly, our
design uses the institution (the Supreme Court or Congress) as a fourth
factor in order to test for interaction effects regarding the
comparative impact of information on evaluations for each institution.
For response variables, we measure subjects’ attitudes on various
facets of institutional evaluation for Congress or the Court, including
diffuse support, general approval, support for the decision itself,
compliance, and stealth democracy. We will then test for both the
direct effects of the manipulations on these various responses as well
as the extent to which the expectation-perception gap mediates the
impact of context-specific information on the different facets of
evaluation. With our explicit cross-institutional focus, we hope to
provide a unified account of the extent to which exposure to
information influences institutional evaluation judgments. Our model
and research design will help to clarify the relationship between
information and institutional evaluation across Congress and the Court,
which remains somewhat of a puzzle in the literature.
REFERENCES (cited in this proposal)
Caldeira, Gregory A., and James L. Gibson. 1992. The Etiology of Public
Support for the Supreme Court. American Journal of Political Science
36:635-64.
Casey, Gregory. 1974. The Supreme Court and Myth: An Empirical
Investigation. Law & Society Review 8:385-419.
Gibson, James L., Gregory A. Caldeira, and Vanessa A. Baird. 1998. On
the Legitimacy of National High Courts. American Political Science
Review 92:343-58.
Hibbing, John R., and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. 1995. Congress as Public
Enemy. Cambridge University Press.
Hibbing, John R., and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. 2002. Stealth Democracy.
Cambridge University Press.
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Association:
Name: The Midwest Political Science Association
URL:
http://www.indiana.edu/~mpsa/


Citation:
URL: http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p83418_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Bartels, Brandon., Smidt, Corwin. and McGraw, Kathleen. "Information and Institutional Evaluation: A Cross-Institutional Analysis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, Apr 15, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p83418_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bartels, B. L., Smidt, C. D. and McGraw, K. M. , 2004-04-15 "Information and Institutional Evaluation: A Cross-Institutional Analysis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p83418_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In this paper, we examine the
extent to which exposure to context-specific information, in both
congressional and Supreme Court decision settings, influences people’s
institutional evaluation judgments. Although there is a considerable
amount research on institutional evaluation of the Supreme Court and
Congress separately, very little work has been done directly comparing
the dynamics of opinion formation for the two. In fact, two lines of
research on Congress and the Court, respectively, provide two competing
empirical implications of the role of information on institutional
evaluation. First, Hibbing and Theiss-Morse’s (1995, 2002) work on
congressional evaluations produces the implication that the more people
are exposed to the processes of Congress, the more likely they will be
exposed to the “sausage” that is the policymaking process, which then
leads to a greater likelihood of negative evaluations. On the other
hand, research on the Supreme Court (e.g., Casey 1974; Caldeira and
Gibson 1992; Gibson et al. 1998) has produced evidence supporting the
contention, to know the Court is to love it. That is, to “know” the
Court is to be exposed to the legitimating symbols by which the Court
is surrounded, which in turn leads to more positive evaluations. Thus,
regarding the role of information, two competing models of evaluation
exist: (1) To know Congress is to hate it, and (2) to know the Supreme
Court is to love it. This paper confronts these two competing models of
evaluation with an explicit cross-institutional focus in an attempt to
provide a unified account of the impact of information on institutional
evaluation. First, we posit a model explaining the processes by which
citizens translate information they consume from an institutional
decision-making context into an institutional evaluation judgment. In
particular, we argue that the information they receive about the
decision setting is pivotal in generating a perception-expectations gap
(via Kimball and Patterson 1997), which then exhibits a direct
influence on one’s evaluation judgments. We account for moderators of
this process such as issue importance and sophistication. We test the
implications of the model using a cross-institutional experimental
design that manipulates three types of information about an
institutional decision setting: (1) partisanship or ideological
division, (2) procedural fairness, and (3) civility. Importantly, our
design uses the institution (the Supreme Court or Congress) as a fourth
factor in order to test for interaction effects regarding the
comparative impact of information on evaluations for each institution.
For response variables, we measure subjects’ attitudes on various
facets of institutional evaluation for Congress or the Court, including
diffuse support, general approval, support for the decision itself,
compliance, and stealth democracy. We will then test for both the
direct effects of the manipulations on these various responses as well
as the extent to which the expectation-perception gap mediates the
impact of context-specific information on the different facets of
evaluation. With our explicit cross-institutional focus, we hope to
provide a unified account of the extent to which exposure to
information influences institutional evaluation judgments. Our model
and research design will help to clarify the relationship between
information and institutional evaluation across Congress and the Court,
which remains somewhat of a puzzle in the literature.
REFERENCES (cited in this proposal)
Caldeira, Gregory A., and James L. Gibson. 1992. The Etiology of Public
Support for the Supreme Court. American Journal of Political Science
36:635-64.
Casey, Gregory. 1974. The Supreme Court and Myth: An Empirical
Investigation. Law & Society Review 8:385-419.
Gibson, James L., Gregory A. Caldeira, and Vanessa A. Baird. 1998. On
the Legitimacy of National High Courts. American Political Science
Review 92:343-58.
Hibbing, John R., and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. 1995. Congress as Public
Enemy. Cambridge University Press.
Hibbing, John R., and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. 2002. Stealth Democracy.
Cambridge University Press.

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