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Public Opinion and Presidential Responsibility for the Economy: Understanding Personalization

Lee Sigelman and Kathleen Knight
Political Behavior
Vol. 7, No. 2 (1985), pp. 167-191
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/586206
Page Count: 25
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Public Opinion and Presidential Responsibility for the Economy: Understanding Personalization
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Abstract

The general mechanisms which underlie the psychological phenomenon of personalizing ("cognitive simplification" and "defensive attribution") would seem to have great utility in explaining attributions of presidential control over the economy. Yet previous research has generated inconsistent and inconclusive empirical results. This study identifies several sources of inconsistency and then attempts to clarify the approach by focusing separately on the "object" and the "subject" of personalizing. Our findings suggest that the determinants of personalizing to "the president" are different from the factors that explain personalizing to the incumbent. In addition, we find that the impact of the two psychological mechanisms differs substantially within economic subject areas.

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