Costly Values: Values-Based Justifications Exacerbate the Consequences of Policy Disagreements for Politician Support

39 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014

See all articles by Erik Peterson

Erik Peterson

Texas A&M University - Department of Political Science

Gabor Simonovits

Stanford University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 4, 2014

Abstract

Politicians regularly communicate their policy positions to the public. These statements are rarely a simple description of the politician’s stance on an issue. Rather, legislators typically offer both a positional cue informing the public of what position they take and a policy justification stating why they take that position. In this study we use two survey experiments to explore the extent to which evidence and values-based justifications alter the dynamics of spatial voting on an issue of importance in contemporary American politics, the debate over the appropriate income tax rates for wealthy individuals. We find that values-based justifications backfire and decrease a candidate’s support among voters who oppose their policy stance. We also show that, in general, employing a justification does not increase a candidate’s support.

Suggested Citation

Peterson, Erik and Simonovits, Gabor, Costly Values: Values-Based Justifications Exacerbate the Consequences of Policy Disagreements for Politician Support (May 4, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2432798 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2432798

Erik Peterson

Texas A&M University - Department of Political Science ( email )

College Station, TX 77843-4353
United States

Gabor Simonovits (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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