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Explaining Information Effects in Collective Preferences
Unformatted Document Text:  less salient topics (Converse 1976; Francis and Busch 1975; Krosnick 1999b: 556-559; Krosnick and Milburn 1990; Rapoport 1982) . In addition, the less salient the topic of a question, the more random the responses to those questions tend to be over time. For instance, over-time correlations among foreign policy items tend to be substantially lower than for domestic policy items, which is often interpreted as reflecting the relative salience of these topical domains (Achen 1975; Converse 1964; Converse and Markus 1979; Feldman 1989) . Among the least stable responses are those to questions regarding taxes (Feldman 1989) . Among the most stable responses are those to social issues, which also tend to have the smallest information effects. When issue salience is relatively high among even the least knowledgeable people, information effects should tend to be small. This may be because the perceived importance of an issue leads people to acquire domain-specific information, which enhances their ability to answer questions about the issue, or because issue salience motivates people to answer questions more systematically than they would otherwise. ANES data contain a variety of questions that ask directly or indirectly about the salience of issues and public affairs. Since the 1996 data are especially rich in such measures, they provide a good test of the relationships between political knowledge, issue salience, and the size of information effects. People with higher levels of political knowledge tend to perceive a broader range of issues as important, to attach greater levels of importance to issues, and to be more interested in public affairs (Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996; Luskin 1990; Neuman 1986) . These relationships are illustrated with correlations in the first column of Table 4. Knowledgeable people report higher levels of “average issue salience,” which is a measure of perceived importance across the five issues in which issue importance was directly measured in the 1996 ANES. 19 They tend to mention a greater number of issues than the ill-informed when prompted to name important national problems, and they tend to perceive a larger number of important differences between the national parties than less knowledgeable respondents. They report higher levels of interest in public affairs than the ill- informed, and they consistently report higher levels of interest in election campaigns at all levels. 19 These measures of issue importance address the provision of government services, defense spending, affirmative action, abortion, and environmental protection.

Authors: Althaus, Scott.
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less salient topics
(Converse 1976; Francis and Busch 1975; Krosnick 1999b: 556-559; Krosnick
and Milburn 1990; Rapoport 1982)
. In addition, the less salient the topic of a question, the more
random the responses to those questions tend to be over time. For instance, over-time correlations
among foreign policy items tend to be substantially lower than for domestic policy items, which is
often interpreted as reflecting the relative salience of these topical domains
(Achen 1975; Converse
1964; Converse and Markus 1979; Feldman 1989)
. Among the least stable responses are those to
questions regarding taxes
(Feldman 1989)
. Among the most stable responses are those to social
issues, which also tend to have the smallest information effects.
When issue salience is relatively high among even the least knowledgeable people, information
effects should tend to be small. This may be because the perceived importance of an issue leads
people to acquire domain-specific information, which enhances their ability to answer questions
about the issue, or because issue salience motivates people to answer questions more systematically
than they would otherwise. ANES data contain a variety of questions that ask directly or indirectly
about the salience of issues and public affairs. Since the 1996 data are especially rich in such
measures, they provide a good test of the relationships between political knowledge, issue salience,
and the size of information effects.
People with higher levels of political knowledge tend to perceive a broader range of issues as
important, to attach greater levels of importance to issues, and to be more interested in public affairs
(Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996; Luskin 1990; Neuman 1986)
. These relationships are illustrated
with correlations in the first column of Table 4. Knowledgeable people report higher levels of
“average issue salience,” which is a measure of perceived importance across the five issues in which
issue importance was directly measured in the 1996 ANES.
19
They tend to mention a greater number
of issues than the ill-informed when prompted to name important national problems, and they tend to
perceive a larger number of important differences between the national parties than less
knowledgeable respondents. They report higher levels of interest in public affairs than the ill-
informed, and they consistently report higher levels of interest in election campaigns at all levels.
19 These measures of issue importance address the provision of government services, defense spending,
affirmative action, abortion, and environmental protection.


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