Prior Beliefs and Arguments: The Micro-Mechanisms of Attitude Certainty and Attitude Change in Deliberative Settings

  • 28 Nov 2017

    17:00-18:00, Clay Room, Nuffield College

  • Political Science Seminars   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Kaat Smets

Royal Holloway College

This event is part of the Political Science Seminar Series.

The deliberative ideal implies that attitude change constitutes a process of weighing arguments and evidence. Using quasi-experimental data on attitudes toward migration from a cross-national deliberative poll, we assess various elements of argumentative theory. First we map the kinds of arguments participants of a deliberative poll produce and find clear evidence that while participants in a deliberative environment adjust their arguments to their prior beliefs they also take into account the tone of the deliberative context. Next we assess how deliberation affects the formation of policy beliefs by studying the role of arguments. The use of positive arguments leads to more positive beliefs about immigrants. This holds true controlling for prior beliefs. The context of deliberation also plays a role. However, evidence for belief updating based on arguments put forward by the participant and in the group (as well as the interaction thereof) is only found for beliefs of immigration as an economic threat and not for cultural threat beliefs.

The Political Science Seminar Series is convened by Geoff Evans, Elias Dinas and Sergi Pardos Prado. For more information on this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact