Friday, June 22, 2007

One Way to Get Better Knowledge

Want to improve the public's political knowledge? In a survey there are two really good methods for getting more correct answers, according to one study.
  • Give 'em more time to answer the question
  • Pay 'em for their trouble.

No, really. They work.

The resounding doh! you hear out there comes from any real people who read this blog is understandable, but this actually matters. It tells us something about the role of motivation, that people often can come up with correct answers about political knowledge if properly motivated. A random telephone call from a stranger asking if you can name your congresspersonthing is hardly a motivating moment.

The lesson? People are smarter about political knowledge than we think. That sounds good, but we (i.e., scholars) think very little of the public's knowledge, so there's plenty of room for improvement (in perception, that is).

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