Citizens, Representatives, and the Myth of the Decision-Making Divide

Citizens, Representatives, and the Myth of the Decision-Making Divide In this study, I use a computerized experiment to test whether elected officials differ from everyday citizens in how they use information to make political choices. Ninety state and local level elected officials took part in the study, as did 179 adults from the general population. I tracked participants’ information use as they attempted to solve two hypothetical public policy problems. The data show that while elected officials differ from everyday citizens in their demographics and in the consistency of their political views, these groups did not differ systematically in their depth of information search, their proclivity to compare choice alternatives, or their depth of information processing. These findings held across two different public policy scenarios, controlling for differences in political knowledge, education, and elective experience. In addition to opening a new methodological frontier for the study of political elites, these results accelerate an ongoing debate between Burkeian paternalists and advocates of a more populist democracy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

Citizens, Representatives, and the Myth of the Decision-Making Divide

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Social Sciences, general; Political Science, general; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-011-9191-8
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In this study, I use a computerized experiment to test whether elected officials differ from everyday citizens in how they use information to make political choices. Ninety state and local level elected officials took part in the study, as did 179 adults from the general population. I tracked participants’ information use as they attempted to solve two hypothetical public policy problems. The data show that while elected officials differ from everyday citizens in their demographics and in the consistency of their political views, these groups did not differ systematically in their depth of information search, their proclivity to compare choice alternatives, or their depth of information processing. These findings held across two different public policy scenarios, controlling for differences in political knowledge, education, and elective experience. In addition to opening a new methodological frontier for the study of political elites, these results accelerate an ongoing debate between Burkeian paternalists and advocates of a more populist democracy.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 17, 2012

References

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