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Information Behavior and Political Preferences

  • Konstantin Vössing and Till Weber

Abstract

This article shows that citizens consider policy positions for the formation of their political preferences when they actively seek and find high-quality information, while they dismiss passively acquired and low-quality information. The study develops an extended theory of information and political preferences that incorporates the process of information acquisition and its connection with information quality. A novel experimental design separates the effects on political preferences due to information behavior as an activity from those due to selective exposure to information. The study applies this design in a laboratory experiment with a diverse group of participants using the example of issue voting and European integration in the context of the 2014 European Parliament elections.

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Humboldt University Berlin, Institute of Social and Political Sciences (email: konstantin.voessing@hu-berlin.de); Baruch College, City University of New York (email: till.weber@baruch.cuny.edu). We are grateful for having had the opportunity to present our research at the Montréal voting experiments workshop, the MPSA Conference 2014, a workshop at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University and the Comparative Politics Research Workshop at Humboldt University Berlin. Thanks for helpful comments go in particular to our discussants Richard Lau and Christopher Lawrence, as well as three anonymous reviewers, the editors of this journal and Diana Burlacu. Friederike Talbot provided excellent research assistance and feedback. We also benefited from valuable feedback from our pre-testers, Nicoleta Bazgan, Steffen Beigang, Pauline Defant, Dominik Duell, Cosima Ingenschay, Dorina Kalkum, Thomas Maruhn, Jochen Rehmert, Birgit Reinhold, Marc Reinhold, Carina Schmitt and Marcel Skaun. Konstantin Vössing gratefully acknowledges support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German research foundation), grant number VO 1990/1-1. Data replication sets are available at http://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123416000600.

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Vössing and Weber Dataset
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Supplementary materials

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