Do public consultations reduce blame attribution? The impact of consultation characteristics, gender, and gender attitudes
journal contributionposted on 06.10.2021, 09:47 by Anthony KevinsAnthony Kevins, Barbara Vis
Can public consultations – gatherings organised to solicit constituent opinions – reduce the blame attributed to elected representatives whose decisions end up backfiring? Using two pre-registered survey experiments conducted on nationally representative samples of US respondents, we examine whether the effectiveness of consultations as a blame avoidance tool may be shaped by: (1) consultation characteristics, especially regarding whether or not representatives align their policies, either actively or passively, with constituent opinion; and (2) elected representative and constituent characteristics, especially regarding a representative’s gender and constituents’ gender attitudes. Results suggest that public consultations are indeed liable to decrease blame attribution, just so long as constituent opinion is not explicitly opposed to the representative’s decision. Active alignment with constituent opinion, however, does not appear to be a requirement for decreased blame attribution – and effects related to gender and gender attitudes are also largely absent. These findings are important for scholars seeking to better understand blame attribution, clarifying how public consultations might help politicians to pre-empt blame by reducing clarity of responsibility.
European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme via a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (Grant no. 750556)
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- International Relations, Politics and History