Uniform TitleIs it who says it, or what they say? information processing and lobbying influence in Congress
NameLa Pira, Timothy Michael (author), Leech, Beth (chair), Lau, Richard (internal member), Junn, Jane (internal member), Baumgartner, Frank (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Political science--Decision making,
DescriptionThis dissertation advances recent theoretical trends in the study of interest groups by marrying them with behavioral models of political decision making. Theories of lobbying characteristically concentrate on how groups supply information to legislators, yet have largely ignored how legislators' sift through and process this information once it is delivered. The question I propose is: How do legislators' cognitive predispositions affect which organizations they listen to and which arguments they accept or reject? By systematically manipulating the content and source of the lobby messages in an experiment using actual congressional staffers as subjects, I am able to test hypotheses about how legislators' perceptions of groups' interest bias their judgments about the policy arguments they employ, and vice versa.
My theory of lobbying influence suggests that boundedly rational policymakers will process information from lobbyists differently depending on the policymaker's professional socialization and relative expertise in a specific policy area. Existing research suggests that lobbyists target their friends in the legislature to provide them with useful information, but precisely why some arguments and not others differentially influence legislative allies is unclear. I contend that policy elites are motivated by existing attitudes towards interest groups and towards policies, meaning that evaluations of both the group's interests and the group's message should affect how influential lobbyists may be.
Lawmakers who are socialized to be objective and policy-oriented are more likely to exhibit rational decision behavior like exhaustively searching, and policymakers who are more reelection-oriented are expected to show evidence of intuitive decision behavior. Similarly, legislators who specialize in a given policy area are more likely to care about the content and validity of a policy advocate's argument, whereas lawmakers who do not specialize are more apt to use group interests as a mental cue. The implication for normative theories of interest representation is that legislators do not always dispassionately deliberate over the pros and cons of a public policy proposal, so we need to reconsider the democratic deliberation justification for the role of interest groups in the policy system.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 192-195).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.