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Explaining Information Effects in Collective Preferences
Unformatted Document Text:  INSERT TABLE 3 HERE While useful for their statistical clarity, the partial correlations reported in this table are less helpful for conveying the substantive impact of policy-specific knowledge. A better sense is given by examining the estimated mean size of information effects among people with different levels of policy-specific knowledge, while holding constant the impact of general political knowledge. 18 The average individual-level information effect in abortion questions was predicted to be 14.3 percentage points among people who could correctly identify Clinton as more pro-choice than Dole, compared to 16.6 points among people who could not. The average gap between surveyed and simulated opinion on defense spending likewise ran 15.5 points among people who correctly placed the parties on defense spending, compared to 17.7 points who did not, and across the six fiscal questions ran 13.3 points among people who knew that the federal budget deficit had declined under President Clinton, compared to 14.8 points who did not. The average individual-level information effect across the seven environmental questions ran 8.9 percentage points among people who correctly placed both the candidates and the parties on relative concerns about environmental protection, 11.8 points among those who correctly placed either the candidates or the parties on relative concerns about environmental protection, and 15.5 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge. 18 Univariate analysis of variance tests for all the relationships reported in this paragraph (using general political knowledge as a covariate) were significant at conventional levels. For the abortion question, F(1, 1395) = 11.9, p<.01 for the unique effects of policy-specific knowledge, and F(1, 1395) =763.9, p<.001 for the unique effects of general political knowledge. The uncorrected group means were 10.5 points among people with correct knowledge about candidates’ abortion stances, compared to 22.0 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge. For the defense spending question, F(1, 1219) = 8.7, p<.01 for the unique effects of policy-specific knowledge, and F(1, 1219) =399.6, p<.001 for the unique effects of general political knowledge. The uncorrected group means were 12.4 points among people with correct knowledge about the parties’ defense spending positions, compared to 21.6 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge. For the fiscal policy questions, where information effects from all six questions are averaged together, F(1, 1302) = 17.2, p<.001 for the unique effects of policy-specific knowledge, and F(1, 1302) =2,445.6, p<.001 for the unique effects of general political knowledge. The uncorrected group means were 10.4 points among people with correct knowledge about the federal budget deficit, compared to 16.0 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge. For the seven environmental policy questions, where information effects from all questions are averaged together, F(2, 1285) = 46.7, p<.001 for the unique effects of policy-specific knowledge, and F(2, 1285) =369.4, p<.001 for the unique effects of general political knowledge. The uncorrected group means were 5.0 points among people with correct knowledge about the federal budget deficit, 10.6 points among those who correctly placed either the candidates or the parties on relative concerns about environmental protection, and 18.2 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge.

Authors: Althaus, Scott.
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INSERT TABLE 3 HERE
While useful for their statistical clarity, the partial correlations reported in this table are less
helpful for conveying the substantive impact of policy-specific knowledge. A better sense is given by
examining the estimated mean size of information effects among people with different levels of
policy-specific knowledge, while holding constant the impact of general political knowledge.
18
The
average individual-level information effect in abortion questions was predicted to be 14.3 percentage
points among people who could correctly identify Clinton as more pro-choice than Dole, compared
to 16.6 points among people who could not. The average gap between surveyed and simulated
opinion on defense spending likewise ran 15.5 points among people who correctly placed the parties
on defense spending, compared to 17.7 points who did not, and across the six fiscal questions ran
13.3 points among people who knew that the federal budget deficit had declined under President
Clinton, compared to 14.8 points who did not. The average individual-level information effect across
the seven environmental questions ran 8.9 percentage points among people who correctly placed
both the candidates and the parties on relative concerns about environmental protection, 11.8 points
among those who correctly placed either the candidates or the parties on relative concerns about
environmental protection, and 15.5 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge.
18 Univariate analysis of variance tests for all the relationships reported in this paragraph (using general
political knowledge as a covariate) were significant at conventional levels. For the abortion question, F(1, 1395) =
11.9, p<.01 for the unique effects of policy-specific knowledge, and F(1, 1395) =763.9, p<.001 for the unique
effects of general political knowledge. The uncorrected group means were 10.5 points among people with correct
knowledge about candidates’ abortion stances, compared to 22.0 points among those lacking policy-specific
knowledge. For the defense spending question, F(1, 1219) = 8.7, p<.01 for the unique effects of policy-specific
knowledge, and F(1, 1219) =399.6, p<.001 for the unique effects of general political knowledge. The uncorrected
group means were 12.4 points among people with correct knowledge about the parties’ defense spending positions,
compared to 21.6 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge. For the fiscal policy questions, where
information effects from all six questions are averaged together, F(1, 1302) = 17.2, p<.001 for the unique effects of
policy-specific knowledge, and F(1, 1302) =2,445.6, p<.001 for the unique effects of general political knowledge.
The uncorrected group means were 10.4 points among people with correct knowledge about the federal budget
deficit, compared to 16.0 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge. For the seven environmental policy
questions, where information effects from all questions are averaged together, F(2, 1285) = 46.7, p<.001 for the
unique effects of policy-specific knowledge, and F(2, 1285) =369.4, p<.001 for the unique effects of general
political knowledge. The uncorrected group means were 5.0 points among people with correct knowledge about the
federal budget deficit, 10.6 points among those who correctly placed either the candidates or the parties on relative
concerns about environmental protection, and 18.2 points among those lacking policy-specific knowledge.


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