University of Bath

Passion in American politics: What happens when citizens pressure government on a policy issue

In this seminar, Professor Jon Krosnick looks at how people form opinions and casts American democracy in a new light.

13 Jun 201812.45pm
to
13 Jun 20181.45pm
Free
Group of people protesting and holding signs
New work on the social psychology of attitudes suggests that understanding a person's opinion on a policy issue requires measuring the strength of that opinion

For decades, political scientists have presumed that American citizens lack real opinions about what they want government to do on specific policy issues. They also thought that citizens' votes in elections are driven by other sorts of considerations, including identity-based affiliations with political parties, assessments of incumbent performance and personality, and more. But new work on the social psychology of attitudes suggests a different perspective: to understand a person's opinion on a policy issue requires measuring the strength of that opinion. And strength is multifaceted.

For more than 20 years, Professor Jon Krosnick has been studying how people form and change their opinions on issues of government policy, what causes some of those opinions to become strong, and what the cognitive and behavioural effects of strong opinions are in the political arena. In this seminar, Krosnick discusses this new perspective which casts the American democracy in a new light, and one that is more encouraging about its integrity than some alternative accounts suggest.