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Funk and Garcia-Monet: The relationship between personal and national concerns in public perceptions about the economy

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Funk and Garcia-Monet. 1997. The relationship between personal and national concerns in public perceptions about the economy. Political Research Quarterly 50 (June): 317-342.

In Brief

  • Who/what are they challenging? Economic self-interest as determinant of political decisions.
  • Question: Are the findings that show people voting sociotropically (rather than out of self-interest) really mistaking sociotropic-ness for indirect self-interest?
  • Data used: NES surveys 1990; 1992
  • Expectations based on Kinder and Kiewiet (1981): Pocketbook has less impact than sociotropic-ness in making political decisions.
  • All you need to know: We need an alternative explanation(s) for sociotropic voting. Indirect self-interest isn't enough.
Hypothesis H1: "Relationship between national economic conditions and political evaluations reflects an indirect role of self-interest which operates through perceptions of national conditions" (336) H2: Those who think government policy will affect their personal financial situation are more likely to judge the national economy based on personal economic perceptions. H3: Personal experience should influence political judgements (presidential approval of economy). Tested where pocketbook effects most likely to be found (p.330)
IV(s) personal economic experience attribute personal financial success to government policy personal economic experience
DV Retrospective evaluations of national economy; Prospective evaluations of national economy Judge national economy by personal economic perceptions approval of presidential economic policy
Findings Retrospective evaluations show some support of indirect self-interest model. Prospective: Personal expectations modestly influence expectations of the nation. Mixed results. Some evidence that attribution leads to increased personal economic evaluation influence on national economic evaluations. More support for indirect self-interest model than H1 or H2.

General Findings

  • Some support for indirect self-interest model, but not overwhelming. Retrospective judgements were particularly weak under the indirect self-interest model.
  • The findings were strongest for the presidential economic approval. This was expected as it is a "domain specific" measure.