Opinion Consistency and Contextual Complexity
42 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
The degree of correlation of citizens' political opinions is commonly linked to individual level resources such as level of education, political engagement and other cognitive elements. In this paper, I argue that the political environment in which citizens are embedded also plays a substantial role, one that complements and mediates individuals' resources. Specifically, the political environment is expected to modify the accessibility and simplicity of available political information, and thus, the average eeffort citizens have to make in order to develop opinions about political issues. Individuals' located in more complex environments are expected to develop less consistent opinions and their opinion formation process will relay, comparatively speaking, more heavily on their resources. To empirically test these hypotheses I employ a hierarchical linear item response model that ts a set of survey items that refer to welfare policy and economic equality. This procedure simultaneously constructs an individual level latent measure of opinion consistency, and estimates the influence of individual and country level predictors, as well as cross-level interactions over the measure in question. Survey data comes from forty-two democratic polities that are part of 1993-1995 and 1999-2004 waves of the World Values Survey program.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation