We examine how descriptive representation, formal representation, and responsiveness affect the legitimacy of political decisions: Who are the representatives, how are they selected, what is the outcome of the decision-making process, and to what extent do these three aspects matter for decision acceptance among the citizens? We examine this from the citizens’ perspective, and ask whether decisions are perceived as more legitimate when they are made by groups that reflect society in certain characteristics and chosen according to certain selection procedures. In a Norwegian survey experiment, we find that people are more willing to accept a decision when it is made by a group of people like them, and who are assigned as decision makers based on their expertise. Descriptive representation also serves as a cushion for unfavorable decisions. Moreover, when asked, the traditionally less advantaged groups tend to value descriptive representation more than other citizens.
Opinion polls may inadvertently affect public opinion itself as people change attitudes after learning what others think. A disconcerting possibility is that opinion polls have the ability to create information cascades or spirals of silence where the majority opinion becomes increasingly larger over time. Testing this hypothesis on attitudes towards Syrian refugees and mandatory measles vaccination, survey experiments are performed on a population based web panel using a novel automated procedure that measure the influence of an initial poll over subsequent polls. No indications of spiraling opinion gaps over time between the treatment and control groups are identified. The polls do however trigger a cognitive response as the treated respondents become more opinionated and alter their justification for their answers.
Democracies are typically considered more legitimate than other types of regimes because they allow the citizens to participate in the policy decision-making process. Others argue that the policy output matters most, and citizen influence plays a lesser role. This study presents two survey experiments on the micro foundations of these two sources of political legitimacy, thus contributing to an emerging literature that experimentally investigates the effects of democratic procedures in small-scale settings. Respondents who saw the decision going in their favour found the decision much more acceptable than the respondents who preferred another outcome. Conversely, decision-making influence generally did not serve as a legitimising factor among the respondents. This result supports the argument that citizens prefer a stealth democracy where they are minimally involved in democratic decision-making processes.
Declining revenues from offline and online ads has led publishers to pursue new avenues, such as native advertising: camouflaging ads as news. Critics of native advertising claim that this form of advertising blurs the boundaries between editorial and commercial content, and can reduce the audiences’ trust in editorial content. However, little research has assessed the possible effects of native ads on audiences’ trust in news. With an experimental design embedded in an online survey (N = 733) representative of the Norwegian population, this study explores the consequences of political native advertising for citizens’ trust in political news. This article discusses how political native advertising poses a challenge to the boundary between journalism and advertising as well as the boundary between journalism and powerful elites. Our study examines (1) how prominently native advertisements should be labelled in order for readers to recognize them as advertising content and (2) whether exposure to such ads reduces readers’ trust in political news. Our most important finding shows that when explicitly labelled, native advertising by political parties can reduce people’s trust in political news.