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08.09.2018 | Original Paper

# Self-Awareness of Political Knowledge

verfasst von: Matthew H. Graham

Erschienen in: Political Behavior | Ausgabe 1/2020

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## Abstract

Despite widespread concern over false beliefs about politically-relevant facts, little is known about how strongly Americans believe their answers to poll questions. I propose a conceptual framework for characterizing survey responses about facts: self-awareness, or how well people can assess their own knowledge. I measure self-awareness of political knowledge by eliciting respondent certainty about answers to 24 factual questions about politics. Even on “unfavorable” facts that are inconvenient to the respondent’s political party, more-certain respondents are more likely to answer correctly. Because people are somewhat aware of their ignorance, respondents usually describe their incorrect responses as low-certainty guesses, not high-certainty beliefs. Where misperceptions exist, they tend to be bipartisan: Democrats and Republicans perform poorly on the same questions and explain their answers using similar points of reference.
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Fußnoten
1
Graham (2018) develops this argument in detail.

2
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a belief as “the feeling of being certain that something exists or is true.” Merriam-Webster’s defines a belief as “a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing.”

3
On the efficacy of anti-cheating pledges, see Clifford and Jerit (2016).

4
This is true because calibration captures both the slope and the intercept shift away from the perfect use of the scale. Online Appendix B contrives a degenerate case with high calibration and negative slope.

5
Online Appendix A presents question-level equivalents of this figure. For simplicity, the figure pools across the partisan cues treatments.

6
This difference is statistically significant at the 0.05 level pooling across party cue conditions ($$\beta =0.031$$, 95% bootstrapped CI = (0.001, 0.061)) but not separately (without cues: $$\beta = 0.031$$$$(-\,0.003, -\,0.069)$$, with cues: $$\beta = 0.030$$$$(-\,0.022, 0.079)$$). Computing the same estimates with robust standard errors yields nearly identical confidence intervals and the same pattern of statistical significance.

7
Note that because these statistics are computed at the question level, within- and between-person slope both reduce to overall slope, and the high/low statistic is undefined because each respondent names only one certainty level.

8
On the two stock market questions, 8.4% of respondents used “television”, “watch”, or a variant of “T.V.”, compared with 3.7% of respondents on other questions. In a bivariate OLS regression, this difference of 4.7 percentage points had a robust standard error of 1.2 percentage points.

9
About 8.5% of party cues respondents used the word “Obama,” “Trump,” or a male pronoun, compared with 4.7% of respondents who did not see party cues. In a bivariate OLS regression, the 3.8 percentage point difference had a robust standard error of 0.7 percentage points.

10
To test this, I ran the following OLS regression using the subset of data in which Democrats and Republicans answered partisan questions: $$\text {correct}_{ik} \sim \beta _0 + \beta _1 \text {stereotype}_{ik} + \beta _2 \text {favorable}_{ik} + \beta _3 \text {stereotype}_{ik} * \text {favorable}_{ik}$$. All variables are indicators. The estimated relationship is almost exactly zero for the unfavorable party ($$\beta _1=0.001$$, cluster-robust se $$=0.028$$) and a slightly negative but statistically insignificant relationship for the favorable party ($$\beta _3=-\,0.032$$, cluster-robust se $$=0.040$$). Because $$\beta _1$$ is near-zero, $$\beta _3$$ is a close proxy for the favorable party’s main effect.

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Titel
Self-Awareness of Political Knowledge
verfasst von
Matthew H. Graham
Publikationsdatum
08.09.2018
Verlag
Springer US
Erschienen in
Political Behavior / Ausgabe 1/2020
Print ISSN: 0190-9320
Elektronische ISSN: 1573-6687
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9499-8

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