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Confidence in the economy in times of crisis: Social representations of experts and laypeople

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  • Gangl, Katharina
  • Kastlunger, Barbara
  • Kirchler, Erich
  • Voracek, Martin
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    Abstract

    This study investigates experts’ and laypeople's social representations of the financial and economic crisis, as widely discussed in the media after the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Financial experts (n=156) and laypeople (n=153) with low versus high confidence in the economic recovery spontaneously associated thoughts and beliefs about the crisis and to economic and political stakeholders. Following a mixed-methods approach, they evaluated economic stakeholders with regard to six trust items. The study was conducted in March 2010 in Austria, which was moderately affected by the crisis. The results indicate that economic variables (e.g., unemployment) were central to the social representations of the crisis, while underlying feelings of unfairness and egoism surfaced during the ongoing process of association. The social representation did not comprise a general criticism of the economic system. The differences between the subgroups depended on identification-based self-protection and economic knowledge. Experts and laypeople tended to attribute the economic crisis to specific stakeholders in a self-protecting way: experts blamed the media, laypeople blamed the managers, and both blamed the politicians. Interestingly, the subgroups tended to evaluate the banks as being relatively neutral. Expertise and differentiated economic knowledge was related to confidence in the economic recovery. Thus, the perceived capability of politicians in terms of competence and morality seems crucial for regaining public confidence in the economy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 603-614

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:41:y:2012:i:5:p:603-614

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

    Related research

    Keywords: Social representations; Financial crisis; Economic crisis; Confidence; Trust;

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    References

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    1. Leiser, David & Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha & Benita, Rinat, 2010. "Human foibles or systemic failure--Lay perceptions of the 2008-2009 financial crisis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 132-141, April.
    2. Leiser, David & Drori, Shelly, 2005. "NaIve understanding of inflation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 179-198, March.
    3. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
    4. Andreea Ernst-Vintila & Sylvain Delouvée & Christine Roland-Lévy, 2011. "Under threat. Lay thinking about terrorism and the three-dimensional model of personal involvement: a social psychological analysis," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 297-324, March.
    5. Haferkamp, Alexandra & Fetchenhauer, Detlef & Belschak, Frank & Enste, Dominik, 2009. "Efficiency versus fairness: The evaluation of labor market policies by economists and laypeople," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 527-539, August.
    6. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
    7. Oleg Nenadic & Michael Greenacre, . "Correspondence Analysis in R, with Two- and Three-dimensional Graphics: The ca Package," Journal of Statistical Software, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(i03).
    8. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    9. Roland-Lévy, Christine & Pappalardo Boumelki, Fatima-Ezzahra & Guillet, Emilie, 2010. "Representation of the financial crisis: Effect on social representations of savings and credit," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 142-149, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Wahl, Ingrid & Pollai, Maria & Kirchler, Erich, 2013. "Status, identification and in-group favouritism of the unemployed compared to other social categories," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 37-43.
    2. Lotz, Sebastian & Fix, Andrea R., 2013. "Not all financial speculation is treated equally: Laypeople’s moral judgments about speculative short selling," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 34-41.

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