Religious Conservative Elites as Source Cues

Lynn Robinson, Paul Goren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Following the lead of Kuklinski and Hurley (1994), we seek to demonstrate that the use of heuristic principles of judgment can lead citizens to make questionable political choices. We hypothesize that people use the religious content and shun the political content of religious conservative source cues like Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition when rendering political judgments. Methods. We test these hypotheses using an experimental design in which the cue subjects receive is experimentally controlled. Results. We find that the use of heuristic principles of judgment, while promoting efficient and structured decision-making, can sometimes lead people to make questionable political judgments. Our results indicate that our respondents view religious conservative source cues in religious rather than political terms. These findings suggest that religious liberals will favor policies supported by the religious right despite their ideological incompatibility, while secular conservatives will oppose policies supported by the religious right despite their ideological affinity. Conclusions. These results clearly indicate that when citizens employ heuristic principles of judgment, the price of efficient decision-making may be inaccurate political choice. Future research should look more deeply into the accuracy-efficiency tradeoff at the individual level and at how the religious right polarizes public opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1997


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