The Trouble with Voters and Those Who Try to Fix Them

23 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 7 Aug 2012

See all articles by Arthur Lupia

Arthur Lupia

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

The trouble with voters is that they lack information. When asked basic questions about policy and politics, few answer correctly. Many people are alarmed by this fact. They worry that such ignorance threatens their communities and nations.

Some people are so concerned about the trouble with voters that they want to do something about it. They want to "fix" ignorant citizens. “Fixing” means providing citizens with information that increases their competence at important political tasks.

Fixers come from many walks of life. They include policy advocates, moral leaders, experts on science and medicine, and scholars who study civic competence. All of them want to help citizens make better decisions.

There is a trouble with fixers as well. They too lack information. Some are misinformed about how citizens think and learn. Others are mistaken about what kinds of information affects competence. These errors prevent fixers from achieving their objectives and undermine potentially valuable attempts to help the public.

This book is about how to fix "fixers" and improve citizen competence as a result. To this end, I integrate many lessons from science and practice. I use these lessons identify common errors and to show fixers how to design more effective educational strategies.

This book can fixers of all kinds better understand, measure, and deliver information that can help voters and improve many valuable civic competences.

(This presentation features material from a book manuscript.)

Keywords: information, knowledge, competence, persuasion, civic education, heuristics

JEL Classification: D8, H3

Suggested Citation

Lupia, Arthur, The Trouble with Voters and Those Who Try to Fix Them (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2105214

Arthur Lupia (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States
734-647-7549 (Phone)
734-764-3341 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: www.umich.edu/~lupia

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