International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Political Knowledge and Partisanship: 2010 Referendum in Republic of Turkey

Koc University

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Ozan Kuru, Koc University
Research Area: Political decision making

In September 2010 a referendum on constitutional changes had been held in Turkey, which gained a lot of public interest and a very intense political campaign. In this referendum, however, there emerged an important debate: Did people vote for referendum’s content or did they vote for their parties through party loyalty? Although a popular vote is something appreciated in normative democratic politics, the issue is to be analyzed through a study of political knowledge for a sophisticated understanding of how individual political decision making is affected by political knowledge. The current empirical study focuses mainly on the construct of political knowledge, a topic very convenient for a constitutional change referendum, since in referendum voting ideally citizens are expected to know and decide about the voted issue. In the first phase of the study, demographics such as age, sex, major/occupation, citizens’ interest, influence from family and media and partisanship effects on political knowledge have been observed on a university students sample and there are found significant implications for current Turkish politics. The main argument revolves around the political knowledge and political heuristics in political decision-making with theoretical implications for the field as well. Interestingly, the first phase of the study also points out to significant differences between the two major political parties’ members in their political knowledge quiz scores about the 2010 Referendum; therefore currently a second phase is being conducted with larger and more representative sample to further study party differences, their causes and implications in political knowledge.