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How People Think, Reason, and Feel about Rights and Liberties

Dennis Chong
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Aug., 1993), pp. 867-899
DOI: 10.2307/2111577
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111577
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
How People Think, Reason, and Feel about Rights and Liberties
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Abstract

In-depth interview data are analyzed to determine how citizens think and reason about controversial political issues involving rights and liberties. These interviews (30 in number) were conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area with a broad cross-section of respondents. Subjects were given ample opportunity to think aloud and to speak freely on such topics as crime, human rights, abortion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, privacy, prostitution, homosexuality, prisoners' rights, censorship, and other important concerns. Particular attention in the analysis is given to: (1) how people sample information from their memories as they address the questions they are asked; (2) how abstract political norms, personal considerations, and feelings about groups affect judgments of civil liberties issues; and (3) how frames of reference and responses vary systematically according to how much the subject knows about the topic.

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