How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy
Beliefs about normative economics appear to be primarily determined by sociotropic rather than egocentric variables. (Sears & Funk, 1990; Citrin & Green, 1990) Using the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy, the current paper finds that the same holds for positiveeconomic beliefs in most – but not all – cases. This hinges on whether a question is “causal” or “non-causal”: Causal beliefs depend on sociotropic variables, especially education and ideology; non-causal beliefs, in contrast, depend on egocentric variables, with income growth playing the leading role. This is consistent with a cognitive model where actors answer easier questions using personal experience, and harder ones with ``off-the-shelf" theories. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006
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