Ambivalence, Political Engagement and Context

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Abstract

Scholars of American politics have generally found a negative relationship between ambivalence and political engagement. This study explores such conclusions and argues that the effect of ambivalence on engagement varies according to electoral context. Using a multi-level modeling strategy, I find that ambivalence has a significant overall effect on political engagement for citizens in the United States but a lesser overall impact for citizens in Great Britain. Yet by allowing the slope and the intercept of ambivalence to vary across parliamentary districts, I find that ambivalence has asymmetrical effects on political engagement within Britain. I conclude by arguing that ambivalence essentially operates in a differential manner across electoral contexts and provide preliminary evidence as to why this is.

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