What Citizens Know Depends on How You Ask Them: Political Knowledge and Political Learning Skills
AbstractSurveys provide widely-cited measures of political knowledge. Do unusual aspects of survey interviews reduce their relevance? To address this question, we embedded a set of experiments in a representative survey of over 1200 Americans. A control group answered political knowledge questions in a typical survey context. Respondents in treatment groups received the same questions in different contexts. One group received a monetary incentive for answering questions correctly. Others were given more time to answer the questions. The treatments increase the number of correct answers by 11-24 percent. Our findings imply that conventional knowledge measures confound respondents’ recall of political information and their motivation to engage the survey question. The measures also provide unreliable assessments of respondents’ abilities to access information that they have stored in places other than their immediately available memories. As a result, existing knowledge measures likely underestimate peoples’ capacities for informed decision making.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 103.
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision: 25 Sep 2006
political knowledge; economic knowledge; experimental economics; incentives; survey;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
- H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
- C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-12-04 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2006-12-04 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-CDM-2006-12-04 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-EXP-2006-12-04 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-KNM-2006-12-04 (Knowledge Management & Knowledge Economy)
- NEP-PBE-2006-12-04 (Public Economics)
- NEP-POL-2006-12-04 (Positive Political Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2006-12-04 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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