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

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journal contribution
posted 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.

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

Publisher

Springer (part of Springer Nature)

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

19/09/2021

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