Getting older, getting wiser? The impact of aging on candidate evaluation

Neal D. Woods, Barry L. Tadlock, Ellen D.B. Riggle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Domain-specific measures, such as political ideology and sophistication, have been used in models of how citizens evaluate candidates for political office. Non-domain-specific factors, such as age, may have additional explanatory power in models of evaluations and affect the type of information processing strategies employed by citizens. Specifically, the use of person- and issue-based information in evaluation strategies may be affected by the cognitive structure of aging, including the acquisition of person impression skills and resources. We test this hypothesis using the Pooled Senate Election Study (1988–92) and the 1974 American National Election Study. The analysis reveals that younger citizens base their evaluations mostly on issue-based criteria, but as citizens age they add person-based criteria to their evaluations. Implications for decision-making models are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-451
Number of pages20
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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