A Source Like Any Other? : Field and Survey Experiment Evidence on How Interest Groups Shape Public Opinion
2021-04-25, Jungherr, Andreas, Wuttke, Alexander, Mader, Matthias, Schoen, Harald
Interest groups increasingly communicate with the public, yet we know little abouthow effective they are in shaping opinions. Since interest groups differ from otherpublic communicators, we propose a theory of interest group persuasion. Interestgroups typically have a low public profile, and so most people are unlikely to havestrong attitudes regarding them. Source-related predispositions, such as credibilityassessments, are therefore less relevant in moderating effects of persuasive appeals byinterest groups than those of high-profile communicators. We test this argument inmultiple large-scale studies. A parallel survey and field experiment (N¼4,659) estab-lishes the persuasive potential of low-profile interest groups in both controlled and re-alistic settings. An observational study (N¼700) shows that substantial portions ofthe public are unable to assess interest group credibility. A survey experiment(N¼8,245) demonstrates that credibility assessments moderate the impact of partybut not interest group communication.