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ECPR Rising Star Award

Party Cues, Trust and Public Opinion in the Context of Canada

Political Parties
Political Psychology
Public Policy
Jennifer Merolla
Claremont Graduate University
Jennifer Merolla
Claremont Graduate University
Laura Stephenson
University of Western Ontario

Political party labels ideally serve as important heuristic aids in the formation and expression of opinions. We investigate who uses party cues, under what circumstances, and to what effect in the Canadian context. Our data come from an experiment embedded in a 2007 internet survey. We use the data to answer two questions. First, do party labels influence one’s ability to express opinions, one’s certainty in her opinion, and the content of one’s opinion impacted by a cue? Second, are these effects moderated by the perceived trustworthiness of the parties? Our findings reveal that reliance on cues varies across individuals, with those higher in trust being more likely to use cues, issues, with reliance being more likely for complex issues, and parties, with the NDP being the most effective cue. The implication is that the heuristic value of party cues is likely to vary across party systems.
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