In an article on voter identity and the potential for attitude change in political views, The New York Times Magazine author Maggie Koerth-Baker cites the Citizens’ Initiative Review as a noteworthy case study in how ordinary citizens form opinions based on hard evidence.
From The New York Times:
Forget for a minute everything you know about politics. Barack Obama now openly supports gay marriage. Mitt Romney now opposes roughly the same kind of health care reform he fought for as governor of Massachusetts. What if they weren’t two politicians calculating how to win an election but instead just two guys who changed their minds? They didn’t “flip-flop”; they experienced, as social scientists say, an attitude change, the way any of us do when we become a vegetarian or befriend a neighbor we used to hate or even just choose to buy a new brand of toothpaste.
Scientists have been studying attitudes and preferences for more than a century; those topics are bound to the origins of social psychology itself. Some of the earliest research, like William Thomas and Florian Znaniecki’s five-volume set, “The Polish Peasant in Europe and America,” published in 1918, revolved around the attitudes of immigrants: how they lived, what their neighbors thought of them, how they changed as they became Americans.