PREFERENCE FORMATION - ? Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2000....

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Unformatted text preview: ? Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2000. 3:1–24 Copyright c 2000 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved P REFERENCE F ORMATION James N. Druckman Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455-0410; e-mail: Arthur Lupia Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0521; e-mail: Key Words belief formation, accessibility, on-line processing, preference reversals, persuasion ■ Abstract This review concerns political preferences—what they are and where they come from. We begin by documenting the close relationship between processes of preference formation and change. Rather than suddenly appearing, most preferences emerge from interactions between individuals and their environment. This aspect of preference formation poses a concrete challenge: to uncover the mechanics of these interactions in important social contexts. We then describe political science research that meets this challenge. We find an expansive literature that clarifies how phenomena such as parties, campaigns, and the need to act strategically affect preferences. This work provides many widely applicable insights. INTRODUCTION Why do people do what they do? An easy answer is that people do what they want. But why do people want what they want? This question has fascinated intellec- tuals for centuries and continues to motivate researchers today. What scientists, generally, and political scientists, in particular, have learned about the answer is the topic of our review. In what follows, we begin by defining what many scholars mean by “prefer- ence,” paying particular attention to what scholars outside of political science have discovered about the nature and origins of preferences. These discoveries clarify how individuals transform the “great, blooming, buzzing confusion” of human experience into preferences for objects such as candidates and policies (James 1890:488). We then move to the core of the review: a description of political science research relevant to preference formation. This core has two sections. The first section focuses on the internal dynamics of preference formation. We compare and contrast some of political science’s most prominent approaches to explaining how 1094-2939/00/0623-0001$14.00 1 ? 2 DRUCKMAN ¥ LUPIA humans convert old and new information into political preferences. In the second section, we review work in political science that explores preference formation’s external dynamics. This research shows how occurrences outside the brain affect preferences inside it. For example, when some political actors have an incentive to provide information strategically, others may face changed incentives for in- terpreting the information they receive (i.e. they must choose whom to believe)....
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PREFERENCE FORMATION - ? Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2000....

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