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Associate Professor, Department of Public Administration, Tamkang University.
The Perception of Issue Salience and Its Influence on the Evaluation of Government Performance
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Issue position is undoubtedly an important factor in accounting for individuals’ political attitudes and behaviors from the approach of rational choice. But the possibility that the perception of issue salience plays a moderating variable has been neglected in the literature. It is hypothesized in this study that people are more likely to be aware of their and the parties’ positions on a particular issue when they consider the issue important. Meanwhile, people tend to exaggerate the distance between major parties’ positions on such an issue. People’s perception of issue salience, therefore, shapes their political attitudes.
Survey data are used in this study to analyze people’s perception of salience regarding “unification-independent “and “nuclear power” in order to examine their hypothesized role of moderating variables shaping people’s evaluation of government performance. It is found that the results of data analysis support the above hypotheses. However, such results depend on the nature of the issues. If people hold rigid attitudes toward an issue over the long term, its moderating effects on shaping people’s political attitudes are reduced.