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The Pervasive Effects of Vested Interest on Attitude–Criterion Consistency in Political Judgment

Authors
Journal
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
0022-1031
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
38
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1006/jesp.2001.1489
Disciplines
  • Political Science

Abstract

Abstract The vested interest construct suggests that people act in attitudinally consistent ways on important issues of high hedonic relevance. Accordingly, vested individuals should endorse policies consistent with their attitudes. Symbolic politics holds self-interest unrelated to attitude and thus of little use. Three secondary analyses of national election data assessed the predictive utility of vested interest on policy-related issues. Consistent with expectations, Analysis 1 found vested interest to be unrelated to policy endorsement. However, Analysis 2 disclosed that vested interest significantly moderated attitude–endorsement consistency on beliefs regarding busing, health insurance, and government-guaranteed living standards. Analysis 3 investigated vested interest effects across three national election surveys and six policy issues. Without exception, vested interest significantly moderated the relationship between attitudes and policy endorsement. These results, obtained across a broad range of topics and respondents, suggest that vested interest is an important moderator of consistency between attitudes and policy endorsement.

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