Public Opinion on Policy Solutions:: The Role of Equivalence Frames, Policy Scope, and Party Cues

Colloquium | November 8 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2538 Channing (Inst. for the Study of Societal Issues), Wildavsky Conference Room

 Laura Stoker Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley

 Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

Our research brings together insights from three disparate literatures—on equivalence framing, scope sensitivity, and party cue-taking—to study public opinion on policies designed to ameliorate problems facing the nation, including the opioid crisis, gun violence, identity theft, failing infrastructure, domestic violence, pollution, teenage bullying, and access to health care. With respect to equivalency framing, we ask whether problems are judged more serious if facts concerning their prevalence are described in terms of the incidence of bad outcomes (e.g., percent dropping out of high school) or of good outcomes (e.g., percent graduating), and if policies receive more support if their objective is to reduce the incidence of bads or to increase the incidence of goods. With respect to scope sensitivity, the question is whether public opinion is sensitive to the scope or ambition of a policy solution, with approval increasing with the policy’s expected achievements, all else held constant. Finally, we extend the party cue-taking literature into the realm of valence politics, examining the extent to which partisans extend or withhold support for a proposed policy solution depending on the initiative’s party sponsor. Answers to these novel questions have important micro- and macro-political implications.

 issi@berkeley.edu, 510-642-0813