Understanding Partisan Cue Receptivity: Tests of Predictions from the Bounded Rationality and Expressive Utility Perspectives.


Why do citizens rely on partisan cues when forming political judgments? We assessed the relative importance of two motives for partisan cue-following using a series of survey experiments.1 We found no support for the bounded rationality hypothesis that cue receptivity is highest among citizens with low cognitive resources. Meanwhile, we found mixed support for the expressive utility hypothesis that cue receptivity is highest among people with both a strong partisan social identification and high cognitive resources. The strength of this latter evidence varied across studies, cognitive resource measures, and cue condition comparisons. The results suggest that partisan cue receptivity more often involves an effort to harness cognitive resources for the goal of identity expression than an effort to compensate for low cognitive resources.

Journal of Politics