The Effect of Policy Disagreement and Emotions on Participation
35 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 7 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 5, 2012
Are citizens motivated to participate in politics by their reactions to public policies? What role does emotion play in this process? We should know more about the policy origins of political participation, as participation is a key component of accountability, which is vital for the functioning of representative democracy. Citizens who are voting because they are motivated by issues are almost certainly much more likely to rely on issue content when evaluating candidates and to convey issue information when they participate in political activities beyond voting. We conduct a survey experiment to assess whether policy disagreement affects citizens’ emotional state and motivates their intended participation in political activities. We find, consistent with the existing literature, that anger increases intended political participation, while policy disagreement has varied effects depending on whether subjects’ emotions are suppressed.
Keywords: emotions, disagreement, participation
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