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Attention! The meanings of attention to politics in surveys

De Geus, R. ORCID: and Green, J. (2021) Attention! The meanings of attention to politics in surveys. Electoral Studies, 72. 102345. ISSN 0261-3794

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2021.102345


This research note explores the role of reported attention to politics in survey overclaiming about politics. Using recognition of real and fictitious political parties in the context of the UK's 2019 European Parliament elections, we find that people who report higher attention to politics are more likely to over-report recognition of fictitious parties, and are also more likely to recognize new real political parties - those that emerged around the issue of ‘Brexit’ in the months before the election. To resolve these patterns, we show that political attention makes little difference to the accuracy of responses for people who have high political knowledge, or if it does so, it increases accuracy. However, for those with lower political knowledge, high reported political attention is a source of potential survey error and bias. These findings are consistent with higher survey satisficing and norm compliance among those who report having greater attention to politics, particularly among those who have lower knowledge. The implications are important for understanding the meaning and consequences of ‘attention to politics’ in surveys.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:100276


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