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The Determinants and Consequences of Recall Error About Gulf War Preferences

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Memory plays a key role in many theories of politics, yet the determinants of inaccurate political memories have not been the subject of much investigation. Combining a dosage-resistance theory of political communications with a theory of memory lapse and reconstruction, it is predicted that a clearly identifiable cluster of traits ought to render people vulnerable to inaccurate autobiographical memory. Testing this hypothesis with ANES 1990–1992 Gulf War panel data on postwar memories of prewar preferences, the theory receives considerable empirical support. Among other factors, media exposure and trust in government increase vulnerability to misremembering, while education increases resistance. Finally, it is established that inaccuracy in autobiographical memory can be tied to future political behavior: those respondents whose recall was inaccurate in 1991 were more likely to vote for the incumbent in 1992.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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