This paper examines the impact of the public on individual opinion. Employing survey-based experiments, I demonstrate public influence to be considerable, yet the magnitude, direction, and significance of effect depends critically on the target of public sentiment and the political predispositions of the perceiver. A theoretical model is developed to delineate and examine such effects, guiding the analyses throughout. Central to this framework is the interplay between opinion context and individual, reflecting the often fluid and complex relationship between aggregate and individual judgment. The specific findings that representations of public opinion can alter the distribution of opinion through assimilation, contrast, or reinforcement are emphasized and given context within the voting and public opinion literature.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 14, 2004
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