Cognitive Heuristics, Inter-Institutional Politics, and Public Perceptions of Insulated Institutions: The Case of the U.S. Supreme Court

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Abstract

How do citizens form perceptions about the ideological priorities of insulated institutions? Currently, there is little consensus on how or even whether citizens form such views. Focusing on the Supreme Court, I argue that perceptions of institutional ideology are influenced by an inter-institutional heuristic, or the popular perception that the president directly and indirectly influences the Court's ideological direction. Using a multiple method approach, I demonstrate that citizens perceive the Court's preferences to coincide with the president's, changing predictably in the aggregate and varying substantially at the micro-level. The findings speak to debates about polarization in politics, showing that citizens may perceive insulated institutions as ideologically extreme due to factors beyond their control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-98
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The World Association for Public Opinion Research. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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