The Role of Elite Accounts in Mitigating the Negative Effects of Repositioning

The Role of Elite Accounts in Mitigating the Negative Effects of Repositioning Repositioning by political elites plays a key role in a variety of political phenomena, including legislative policymaking and campaigning. While previous studies suggest that repositioning will lead to negative evaluations, these studies have not explored the role of elite communications in structuring mass responses. We argue that this omission is problematic because elite explanations for their actions may limit the costs associated with ‘flip-flopping’ by persuading some citizens to update their attitudes so that they agree with the elite’s new stance and also by molding beliefs about the motives of the elite when repositioning. We present evidence supportive of this argument obtained from two large experiments conducted on samples of American adults. Ultimately, we show that elites offering a satisfactory justification for their change can avoid most, if not all, of the evaluative costs that would otherwise occur. This study thus has important implications not just for this particular element of elite behavior, but also related questions concerning governmental accountability and representation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

The Role of Elite Accounts in Mitigating the Negative Effects of Repositioning

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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/s11109-016-9372-6
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Repositioning by political elites plays a key role in a variety of political phenomena, including legislative policymaking and campaigning. While previous studies suggest that repositioning will lead to negative evaluations, these studies have not explored the role of elite communications in structuring mass responses. We argue that this omission is problematic because elite explanations for their actions may limit the costs associated with ‘flip-flopping’ by persuading some citizens to update their attitudes so that they agree with the elite’s new stance and also by molding beliefs about the motives of the elite when repositioning. We present evidence supportive of this argument obtained from two large experiments conducted on samples of American adults. Ultimately, we show that elites offering a satisfactory justification for their change can avoid most, if not all, of the evaluative costs that would otherwise occur. This study thus has important implications not just for this particular element of elite behavior, but also related questions concerning governmental accountability and representation.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 20, 2016

References

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