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Good Enough for Government WorkThe Public Reputation Crisis in America (And What We Can Do to Fix It)$
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Amy E. Lerman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226630175

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226630342.001.0001

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Why Reputations in Crisis Are Hard to Change

Why Reputations in Crisis Are Hard to Change

(p.73) Four Why Reputations in Crisis Are Hard to Change
Good Enough for Government Work

Amy E. Lerman

University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes a series of survey experiments on reputation-motivated reasoning. Essentially, these experiments show that when individuals have information about a program or service and believe it to be low quality, they are likely to assume it is provided by government. This is true irrespective of how it is actually provided, and it is also independent of the objective quality of public versus private service provision in their community. They make the reverse inference when encountering a program or service that is perceived to be of higher quality. In this case, they are more likely to assume it is provided privately. The consequence of this biased inference is that, even in the face of government successes, citizens’ beliefs about the low quality of government are difficult to change.

Keywords:   Motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, reputation crisis, public opinion

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