How Norms Shape the Nature and Origins of Mass Belief Systems

55 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2020

See all articles by Eric W Groenendyk

Eric W Groenendyk

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Erik O. Kimbrough

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics

Mark Pickup

Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Date Written: February 15, 2020

Abstract

Are Americans’ policy preferences constrained by ideological belief systems? If so, what does this imply? We bring clarity to these long-debated questions by addressing three vital concerns: First, constraint is typically operationalized based on researchers’ understanding of “what goes with what,” but how valid are these assumptions? Using an incentivized coordination game, we find substantial variability in ideological norm clarity across issues. Second, the extant literature equates lack of constraint with ignorance, but how many seemingly “ideologically innocent” voters simply choose to flout ideological norms? When we measure political preferences and knowledge of ideological norms separately, it becomes clear that ignorance and pragmatism are typically conflated. Third, does constraint facilitate accountability, or does it indicate adherence to ideological norms? Using a survey experiment, we find that priming norms increases adherence. This suggests that the most ideologically constrained are the strongest norm followers and perhaps not best-suited to ensure democratic accountability.

Keywords: norms, ideology, survey, experiment

JEL Classification: D91, D72, C90

Suggested Citation

Groenendyk, Eric W and Kimbrough, Erik O. and Pickup, Mark, How Norms Shape the Nature and Origins of Mass Belief Systems (February 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3541289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3541289

Eric W Groenendyk

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Erik O. Kimbrough (Contact Author)

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics ( email )

One University Dr
Orange, CA 92866
United States

Mark Pickup

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

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