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Priming Predispositions and Changing Policy Positions: An Account of When Mass Opinion is Primed or Changed

October 29, 2018 @ 12:00 am

Priming Predispositions and Changing Policy Positions: An Account of When Mass Opinion is Primed or Changed

DateOctober 28, 2013

Time5:00am to 6:30am

Location
4357 Bunche Hall

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Prior research provides limited insights into when political communications prime or change citizens’ underlying opinions. This paper attempts to fill that void by putting forth a new account of priming and opinion change. I argue that crystallized attitudes can often be primed by new information. An influx of attention to less crystalized issues, however, should lead individuals to alter their underlying opinions in accordance with prior beliefs. Since predispositions acquired early in the lifecycle like partisanship, religiosity and group-based affect/antagonisms are more crystallized than mass opinion about public policy, media and campaign content will tend to prime citizens’ predispositions and change their policy positions. Both my review of previous priming research and original analyses presented in this study from five new cases strongly support that crystallization-based account of when mass opinion is primed or changed. I conclude with a discussion of the paper’s potential methodological, political, and normative implications.

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