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Uncertainty and Political Perceptions

Alvarez, R. Michael and Franklin, Charles H. (1994) Uncertainty and Political Perceptions. Journal of Politics, 56 (3). pp. 671-688. ISSN 0022-3816.

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While the world of politics is uncertain, previous work, both theoretical and empirical, has largely failed to incorporate this uncertainty into the analysis of public opinion and electoral behavior. In this article we discuss measures designed to elicit the uncertainty survey respondents feel about their political perceptions. These measures exhibit response patterns which are interpretable, substantively interesting, and consistent with a model relating uncertainty to citizen information costs. We also find that variation in respondent uncertainty leads to different models of perception of political figures and speaks to models of the survey response. As a practical matter, our measures can easily be incorporated into existing surveys with no disruption of continuity.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemWorking Paper
Alvarez, R. Michael0000-0002-8113-4451
Additional Information:© 1994 Published by The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Southern Political Science Association. Manuscript submitted 6 April 1993; Final manuscript received 17 December 1993. Previous versions of this article were presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 1992, and the Ninth Political Methodology Conference, Harvard University, July 16-19, 1992. We thank Steve Ansolabehere, Stanley Feldman, Simon Jackman, and Robert Luskin for their comments. We also thank participants in seminar discussions at both the University of California-Riverside and the University of California-San Diego for their insights. We are especially indebted to the Letters and Science Survey Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for support of our data collection.
Subject Keywords:Senators, Taxes, Statistical models, Political science, Survey responses, Political candidates, Threshing, Expected values, Political elections, Political campaigns
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170830-160158477
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Official Citation:Alvarez, R. Michael, and Charles H. Franklin. “Uncertainty and Political Perceptions.” The Journal of Politics, vol. 56, no. 3, 1994, pp. 671–688. JSTOR,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81000
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:31 Aug 2017 00:00
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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