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Explaining Information Effects in Collective Preferences
Unformatted Document Text:  Methodological Appendix Simulations of information effects reported in this paper were calculated from 235 opinion questions in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 American National Election Studies, which include all the policy questions from these studies (n=172), all of the questions measuring approval of Congress, the president, and presidential policies (n=16), as well as all of the questions asking respondents to report politically-relevant values or make value judgments of one kind or another (n=47). Knowledge Indices The information measures used in this paper are based on those constructed and tested by Delli Carpini and Keeter (1993, 1996). These indices are primarily additive measures of correct answers to factual knowledge questions, where a correct answer is assigned a value of 1 and an incorrect response or no answer is given a value of 0. They also incorporate a subjective assessment of respondent knowledge level made by the survey interviewer at the conclusion of the interview. Three kinds of factual knowledge items were used to construct these indices: relative location tests in which correct answers are constructed by comparing responses to two different questions, open-ended questions asking respondents to identify the job or political office held by a public figure, and closed-ended questions testing knowledge of changes in the federal budget deficit, constitutional powers of federal branches, which party held majority status in both houses of Congress, and which party was more conservative than the other. An example of a correct answer to a relative location test is placing the Republican party as relatively more conservative than the Democratic party on a seven-point ideology index, regardless of where on the ideology index a respondent actually placed the two parties. The 1988 knowledge index has a mean of 11.0, standard deviation of 5.2, maximum value of 21 and minimum value of 0 (Cronbach’s alpha=.88). The index consists of 17 items: pre- election interviewer rating score (reverse coded), offices held by Jim Wright (13.9% correct answers), Ted Kennedy (69.0%), William Rehnquist (3.5%), Michail Gorbachev (71.0%), George Schultz (38.8%), Margaret Thatcher (60.0%), and Yasser Arafat (36.8%); naming the

Authors: Althaus, Scott.
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Methodological Appendix
Simulations of information effects reported in this paper were calculated from 235 opinion
questions in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 American National Election Studies, which include all the
policy questions from these studies (n=172), all of the questions measuring approval of Congress,
the president, and presidential policies (n=16), as well as all of the questions asking respondents
to report politically-relevant values or make value judgments of one kind or another (n=47).
Knowledge Indices
The information measures used in this paper are based on those constructed and tested by
Delli Carpini and Keeter (1993, 1996). These indices are primarily additive measures of correct
answers to factual knowledge questions, where a correct answer is assigned a value of 1 and an
incorrect response or no answer is given a value of 0. They also incorporate a subjective
assessment of respondent knowledge level made by the survey interviewer at the conclusion of
the interview. Three kinds of factual knowledge items were used to construct these indices:
relative location tests in which correct answers are constructed by comparing responses to two
different questions, open-ended questions asking respondents to identify the job or political
office held by a public figure, and closed-ended questions testing knowledge of changes in the
federal budget deficit, constitutional powers of federal branches, which party held majority status
in both houses of Congress, and which party was more conservative than the other. An example
of a correct answer to a relative location test is placing the Republican party as relatively more
conservative than the Democratic party on a seven-point ideology index, regardless of where on
the ideology index a respondent actually placed the two parties.
The 1988 knowledge index has a mean of 11.0, standard deviation of 5.2, maximum value
of 21 and minimum value of 0 (Cronbach’s alpha=.88). The index consists of 17 items: pre-
election interviewer rating score (reverse coded), offices held by Jim Wright (13.9% correct
answers), Ted Kennedy (69.0%), William Rehnquist (3.5%), Michail Gorbachev (71.0%),
George Schultz (38.8%), Margaret Thatcher (60.0%), and Yasser Arafat (36.8%); naming the


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