Choice under Pressure: A Dual Preference Model and Its Application
By making a distinction between public and private preferences, the paper presents a dual preference model depicting possible responses (i.e., exit, sincere voice and self-subversion) to social pressures from two opposing pressure groups. Exit is deserting the setting; sincere voice is publicly expressing dissatisfaction and self-subversion is the misrepresentation of one's private preference under social pressures. Exit and sincere voice involve prohibitive costs, making self-subversion the superior option. Massive self-subversion polarizes the society, harboring multiple social equilibria with oscillating public opinion. In an effort to dominate the public discourse, each rival pressure group opts for favorable corner equilibrium. The paper applies the dual preference model to Turkey where two kinds of self-subversion appear in response to competing Islamist and secularist social projects. Islamist pressures lead to pro-Islamist self-subversion, and secularist pressures to pro-secularist self-subversion, resulting in the polarization of the Turkish public opinion along Islamists vs. Secularists. Three field experiments with 450 respondents provide empirical support for the model's conclusions. The paper ends with the discussion of the model's implications for new social equilibrium(s).
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