Separating Political Attitude Change from Attitude Uncertainty: (In)Consistency Experiments of the ESS Panel Component

Sedef Turper, Kees Aarts, Minna van Gerven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic


As far as its vital role for explaining causal mechanisms is concerned, change has always been a great interest to scholars. Scholarly attention paid tracing and explaining changes in attitudes and behavioral patterns of diverse populations, paved the way to many wide scale crosssectional time-series data collection projects in the field of social sciences. However, while repeated cross-sectional surveys provide data about aggregate level trends, the evidence they provide about micro-level processes underlying these macro changes is indirect. Thus, the knowledge that standard cross-sectional studies can provide is destined to be incomplete in the absence of more direct evidence about micro-processes. This paper attempts to the shed light on the micro-level political attitude change processes through (in)consistency confrontation experiments conducted as a part of the Panel Component of European Social Survey. In these experiments, a subset of the panel respondents are asked to confront with their responses from the previous wave, irrespective of whether they offered a consistent or an inconsistent answer. The design of the experiments allows us not only to systematically analyze the micro-level processes underlying political attitude change, but also to differentiate between genuine attitude change and attitude uncertainty. We first present to what extent level of attitude uncertainty and susceptibility to attitude change differ with respect to level of education, political interest, and attitude strength by using four-wave panel data representative of Dutch population over age 16. Secondly, we further investigate the nature of observed political attitude change among different education level, political interest and attitude strength groups through the examination of (in)consistency experiments. Analysis of the experimental data provides us with better understanding of attitude change at the micro-level and also with direct evidence needed to complement the statistical inferences on separation of attitude change from measurement error
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAsking Critical Questions
Subtitle of host publicationtoward a sustainable future for public opinion and social research, 2013 conference abstracts
Place of PublicationBoston
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2013
Event68th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) - Seaport Boston Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, United States
Duration: 16 May 201319 May 2013
Conference number: 68


Conference68th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR)
Country/TerritoryUnited States


Dive into the research topics of 'Separating Political Attitude Change from Attitude Uncertainty: (In)Consistency Experiments of the ESS Panel Component'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this