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How Predictive Appeals Affect Policy Opinions
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr., 2009), pp. 411-426
Published by: Midwest Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25548126
Page Count: 16
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When political actors debate the merits of a public policy, they often focus on the consequences of a bill or legislative proposal, with supporters and opponents making stark but contradictory predictions about the future. Building upon the framing literature, I examine how rhetoric about a policy's consequences influences public opinion. I show that predictive appeals work largely by altering people's beliefs about the impact of a policy. Following in the tradition of recent framing research, this article also examines how opinions are influenced when people are exposed to opposing predictions. The analysis focuses on two strategies that are common in real-world debates-the direct rebuttal (in which an initial appeal is challenged by a statement making the opposite prediction) and the alternate frame (which counters an initial appeal by shifting the focus to some other consequence). There are important differences in the effectiveness of these two strategies-a finding that has implications for the study of competitive framing and the policymaking process more generally.
American Journal of Political Science © 2009 Midwest Political Science Association