Presidential image and economic performance: A dynamic analysis

Mark Peffley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


How do people form and revise their images of the president's personal characteristics? While analysts have made considerable progress in uncovering the content, structure, and political impact of images of political figures-especially presidential candidates-we know very little about how these beliefs develop and change over time. This study of change and stability in presidential images is based on two contrasting theoretical perspectives. Research by several rational choice theorists suggests that individuals base their images of the president's personal characteristics on observations of presidential performance and these images remain open to revision, based on new performance evaluations. Research on social cognition, however, suggests that early impressions tend to maintain themselves by biasing performance evaluations. These perspectives guide an examination of five-wave panel data in an effort to determine the extent to which people's evaluations of the president's handling of economic problems influence, and are influenced by, general images of the president's competence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-333
Number of pages25
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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