Anchoring Political Preferences: The Psychological Foundations of Status Quo Bias and the Boundaries of Elite Manipulation - Sciences Po Access content directly
Journal Articles Political Behavior Year : 2023

Anchoring Political Preferences: The Psychological Foundations of Status Quo Bias and the Boundaries of Elite Manipulation

Abstract

Abstract Public policy is often about numbers that affect people’s lives in fundamental ways. Given the central importance of numbers, we examine anchoring , a heuristic in which people are influenced by an initial number in expressing a preference. Across a series of experiments and three unique surveys, we find evidence of anchoring effects, but not uniformly so. In contrast to experiments in psychology and behavioral economics, we find no evidence that irrelevant or arbitrary anchors shape policy preferences. Yet, when provided politically relevant anchors that clearly correspond to the policy proposal, we find evidence of strong effects, even in the face of party cues or in the absence of a status quo policy point. Taken together, our results demonstrate that there is a psychological explanation for why the status quo occupies a powerful position in policy debates as well as why agenda setting is so influential.

Dates and versions

hal-03953231 , version 1 (23-01-2023)

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Kevin Arceneaux, Stephen Nicholson. Anchoring Political Preferences: The Psychological Foundations of Status Quo Bias and the Boundaries of Elite Manipulation. Political Behavior, 2023, ⟨10.1007/s11109-022-09847-6⟩. ⟨hal-03953231⟩
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