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Do public consultations reduce blame attribution? The impact of consultation characteristics, gender, and gender attitudes

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posted on 2023-09-08, 15:29 authored 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.

Funding

European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme via a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (Grant no. 750556)

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • International Relations, Politics and History

Published in

Political Behavior

Volume

45

Issue

3

Pages

1121-1142

Publisher

Springer (part of Springer Nature)

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Acceptance date

2021-09-19

Publication date

2021-09-27

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

0190-9320

eISSN

1573-6687

Language

  • en

Depositor

Dr Anthony Kevins. Deposit date: 20 September 2021

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