Rolling off the Tongue into the Top-of-the-Head: Explaining Language Effects on Public Opinion

Rolling off the Tongue into the Top-of-the-Head: Explaining Language Effects on Public Opinion Growing evidence shows that mass opinion varies by interview language, yet modest theory exists to explain this result. I propose a framework where language impacts survey response by making some political concepts more mentally accessible. I claim that concepts vary by how associated they are with certain languages, which means people are more likely to acquire a construct when it is tied to the tongue one speaks. Hence, recalling concepts from memory should be easier when the language a construct is linked to matches the tongue one interviews in, thereby intensifying people’s opinions. I test my theory by manipulating the interview language in two U.S. surveys of English/Spanish bilingual Latino adults. I generally find that language influences the accessibility of concepts. For example, subjects report higher opinion levels for concepts that are tied more to their interview language, such as American identity among English interviewees. Subjects who interview in English are also less likely to refuse completing items measuring knowledge about U.S. politics, and more likely to answer them quickly. Items reflecting constructs that are highly labile (e.g. anti-Obama affect) or very crystallized (e.g., partisanship) do not display these patterns. I then rule out that language effects are mostly mediated by a heightened sense of anxiety, anger, pride or efficacy that emerges when bilingual subjects interview in one of their languages. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

Rolling off the Tongue into the Top-of-the-Head: Explaining Language Effects on Public Opinion

Loading next page...
 
/lp/springer_journal/rolling-off-the-tongue-into-the-top-of-the-head-explaining-language-ZDfrZPxN0g
Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-015-9329-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Growing evidence shows that mass opinion varies by interview language, yet modest theory exists to explain this result. I propose a framework where language impacts survey response by making some political concepts more mentally accessible. I claim that concepts vary by how associated they are with certain languages, which means people are more likely to acquire a construct when it is tied to the tongue one speaks. Hence, recalling concepts from memory should be easier when the language a construct is linked to matches the tongue one interviews in, thereby intensifying people’s opinions. I test my theory by manipulating the interview language in two U.S. surveys of English/Spanish bilingual Latino adults. I generally find that language influences the accessibility of concepts. For example, subjects report higher opinion levels for concepts that are tied more to their interview language, such as American identity among English interviewees. Subjects who interview in English are also less likely to refuse completing items measuring knowledge about U.S. politics, and more likely to answer them quickly. Items reflecting constructs that are highly labile (e.g. anti-Obama affect) or very crystallized (e.g., partisanship) do not display these patterns. I then rule out that language effects are mostly mediated by a heightened sense of anxiety, anger, pride or efficacy that emerges when bilingual subjects interview in one of their languages.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 28, 2016

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 12 million articles from more than
10,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Unlimited reading

Read as many articles as you need. Full articles with original layout, charts and figures. Read online, from anywhere.

Stay up to date

Keep up with your field with Personalized Recommendations and Follow Journals to get automatic updates.

Organize your research

It’s easy to organize your research with our built-in tools.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve Freelancer

DeepDyve Pro

Price
FREE
$49/month

$360/year
Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed
Create lists to
organize your research
Export lists, citations
Read DeepDyve articles
Abstract access only
Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles
Print
20 pages/month
PDF Discount
20% off