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Facing the Challenge of DemocracyExplorations in the Analysis of Public Opinion and Political Participation$
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Paul M. Sniderman and Benjamin Highton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151106

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151106.001.0001

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Purposive Mass Belief Systems concerning Foreign Policy

Purposive Mass Belief Systems concerning Foreign Policy

Chapter:
(p.47) II Purposive Mass Belief Systems concerning Foreign Policy
Source:
Facing the Challenge of Democracy
Author(s):

Benjamin I. Page

Tao Xie

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691151106.003.0003

This chapter proposes a theory of “purposive belief systems,” postulating an instrumental logic that tends to form an important foundation for citizens' policy preferences. This theory is based on the proposition that ordinary citizens are capable of—and tend to engage in—“rational,” instrumental, purposive reasoning about politics. Empirically, substantial evidence for the existence of such belief systems has already been found in the realm of foreign policy. This chapter illustrates and extends those findings, using recent data on the specific case of U.S.–China relations. It also explores the workings of policy preference heuristics that involve feelings toward foreign countries and investigates the ways in which such heuristics do or do not relate to purposive belief systems.

Keywords:   purposive belief systems, policy preferences, purposive reasoning, foreign policy, U.S–China relations, policy preference heuristics, mass belief systems

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