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The moment you decide, you divide. How politicians assess procedural fairness

Journal article
Authors Peter Esaiasson
Patrik Öhberg
Published in European Journal of Political Research
ISSN 0304-4130
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords Elite experiments; Procedural fairness; Rational decision-making; Perceptual bias; Democratic norms
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


Are politicians more rational decision‐makers than citizens? We contribute to the ongoing debate by examining how politicians and citizens assess the fairness of the process leading to a controversial policy decision. We theorize why it is tempting to match the favorability of policy decisions with a fairness assessment of the preceding process, and how politicians and citizens differ in their approach to the task. Having derived three hypotheses, we run parallel scenario experiments in large samples of Swedish politicians and citizens, in which we manipulate the outcome and fairness of a policy decision process. As predicted, we find that both politicians and citizens match the favorability of the decision with the assessment of the process, that these self‐serving biases are stronger among politicians; and that policy engagement accounts for the group‐level difference.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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