Thursday, November 19, 2009

Efficacy and Voting

I blogged yesterday (or see below) about a study from American Behavioral Scientist that examines the role of efficacy and confidence of one's knowledge -- especially among young voters -- and voting.  In that post I broke down the methodology and touched on key concepts.  Today I sum up the results and ask about their meaningfulness in real-world politics.

Basically it goes like this: younger voters are less confident of their political knowledge, of their competence to vote.  This affects their likelihood to vote.  The results in this study are a bit slim, more tantalizing than conclusive.  And the role of media is unclear in this study.

But it makes sense that younger voters might be less confidence in their electoral competence.  They tend to consume less news and to not have built up a foundation of political knowledge from previous elections and campaigns.  That, along with other factors, suggests lower voting.

So what do we do?  Build up their confidence?


We have enough of this self-esteem crap in schools, especially among kids who don't have all that much to be "esteemed" about.  If young people fill up on empty-calorie content such as The Daily Show without also consuming serious news, then they're likely to feel like they have a base of knowledge from which to vote but instead have little actual knowledge.  You might increase voting, but you might also increase "bad" voting.  I'm not sure how much a democracy gains, though I suppose indifferent or inconsistent voting beats no voting at all.

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