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Title The micro-foundations of macro-competence: A comparative experimental study of parties’ valence evaluations
Post date 02/13/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale There is ample evidence that parties profit electorally from ‘macro-competence’ (Green and Jennings, 2017): a general perception that they can handle issues and govern effectively. There is far less evidence of the sources of these competence ratings – especially for non-incumbent parties. In a first stage of testing in Britain, we ran paired conjoint experiments testing the impact of a range of attributes (see C2) on the probability of a party being thought most competent – in general or specifically on the economy. Here, we pre-register a parallel design for testing in the very different multiparty contexts of Denmark and Italy. The aims are threefold: 1. to test in two new contexts our hypotheses about the drivers of competence evaluations; 2. to investigate any differences between general and economic competence; 3. to test broader comparative hypotheses about the moderating impact of the political system on the relative importance of ‘performance’ and ‘representational’ drivers of competence.
C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

Reflecting those three aims, we have three sets of hypotheses: general and comparative.

H1: Parties will be regarded as more generally competent if they:
a) are longer-established;
b) have a larger membership;
c) are performing better in the polls;
d) are described as more united;
e) have more recent experience of government;
f) are described as more ideologically moderate;
g) prioritise the economy over other issues.

H2a: The effect of prioritizing the economy will be stronger on economic competence.
H2c: The effect of ideological position on economic competence will be asymmetric, with left-wing parties punished more for non-moderate positions

H3a: The effect of ‘performance’ attributes – size, unity, ideological moderation, and experience in office – on general competence will be disproportionately strong in the two-party British context.
H3b: The effect of ‘representation’ attributes – match with respondents’ ideological position and issue priority – on general competence will be disproportionately strong in the multi-party Danish and Italian contexts.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? * Via paired conjoint experiments in which respondents are presented with profiles of two parties, each consisting of eight attributes, and asked to choose the most competent. Each respondent will complete two choice tasks. Half of the sample will assess general competence, the other half economic competence.
C4 Country Denmark, Italy
C5 Scale (# of Units) 4,000 (i.e. N=2,000 for each type of competence)
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number n/a (lead institution does not assign reference numbers to approved studies)
C9 Date of IRB Approval 31 July 2018
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Denmark: YouGov; Italy: to be confirmed
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? Yes
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors