What Was and What Shall Be: Economic Attitudes and Cognitive Dissonance Following Election Outcomes
29 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2023
Two prominent mechanisms have been advanced to explain the effects of election outcomes on economic attitudes/perceptions: partisan competence attribution, based on voters’ genuine belief of an elected party’s competence; and partisan dissonance resolution, where voters change their economic attitudes so as to remain consistent with their past behaviour/view. To date, these two mechanisms have not been considered jointly. We draw on a unique, closely spaced, panel dataset around the 2013 German general elections to consider retrospective (past evaluations) and prospective (future expectations) attitudes about both one’s personal economic situation and that of the national economy. We find no evidence for competence attribution; voters of the future coalition parties do not expect higher household incomes nor their job situation to improve. We find changes in retrospective attitudes about the national economy, explained by dissonance resolution given a political alliance that was negated and depreciated throughout the pre-election period. We discuss the implications these results have.
Keywords: Economic attitudes, cognitive dissonance, elections
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