Where Does the Buck Stop? Applying Attribution Theory to Examine Public Appraisals of the President

Authors

  • CIGDEM V. SIRIN,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Texas at El Paso
      Cigdem V. Sirin is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. She has recently published her work in Acta Politica, International Political Science Review, and the International Journal of Conflict Management.
      José D. Villalobos is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has recently published articles in Political Research Quarterly, Administration & Society, the International Journal of Public Administration, and Review of Policy Research.
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  • JOSÉ D. VILLALOBOS

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Texas at El Paso
      Cigdem V. Sirin is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. She has recently published her work in Acta Politica, International Political Science Review, and the International Journal of Conflict Management.
      José D. Villalobos is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has recently published articles in Political Research Quarterly, Administration & Society, the International Journal of Public Administration, and Review of Policy Research.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • AUTHORS' NOTE: We wish to thank Nick Valentino and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful insights and comments on this project.

Cigdem V. Sirin is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. She has recently published her work in Acta Politica, International Political Science Review, and the International Journal of Conflict Management.
José D. Villalobos is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has recently published articles in Political Research Quarterly, Administration & Society, the International Journal of Public Administration, and Review of Policy Research.

Abstract

This study applies attribution theory to examine public appraisals of the president. To date, most political science research on attribution theory has focused on domestic policy, and no work has considered both domestic and foreign policy domains in tandem. To fill this gap, we formulate and experimentally test a series of hypotheses regarding the level of responsibility and credit/blame that individuals attribute to the president in both policy domains across varying policy conditions. We also consider how party compatibility affects people's attribution judgments. Our findings provide a new contribution to the literature on political attributions, executive accountability, and public perceptions of presidential performance.

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