Can Citizens Discern? Information Credibility, Political Sophistication, and the Punishment of Corruption in Brazil

36 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2015

See all articles by Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Political Science

Matthew S. Winters

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Political Science; Institute for Corruption Studies

Date Written: April 30, 2015

Abstract

Citizens in a democracy can only hold elected officials accountable if they are able to correctly assess politician performance. Although there is ample evidence that individuals learn and take political cues from favored sources, these sources may have incentives to dissemble. When will citizens discern between more and less credible sources of political information? We examine citizen responsiveness to information sources of variable credibility in Brazil, a setting that poses a number of challenges to citizen discernment. Using data from an original survey experiment on political corruption, we show that all respondents except for the very least educated are able to discern between sources of information with differing credibility. We also show that the ability to discern more from less credible information is increasing in cognitive and political sophistication. Our findings provide the first direct empirical evidence that citizens in a middle-income democracy are sensitive to information credibility.

Suggested Citation

Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca and Winters, Matthew S., Can Citizens Discern? Information Credibility, Political Sophistication, and the Punishment of Corruption in Brazil (April 30, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2645332 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2645332

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://vivo.brown.edu/display/rweitzsh

Matthew S. Winters

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Political Science ( email )

702 S. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/mswinters1/home

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
66
Abstract Views
1,049
rank
373,758
PlumX Metrics