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Political Efficacy

Patricia Moy


A multidimensional concept that links political →  cognitions , →  attitudes , and behaviors, political efficacy refers generally to citizens’ beliefs in their ability to influence the political system. In the half-century since its emergence, research on political efficacy has focused much on its conceptualization and →  operationalization. In communication research, however, scholarship has emphasized defining its antecedents and outcomes. According to its initial formulation ( Campbell et al. 1954 ), political efficacy referred to the feeling that political actions taken by individuals can have an impact on the political process. Early perspectives on the concept saw it not only as a psychological disposition, but also as a norm and as a behavior. In other words, if citizens are politically efficacious, they will be more likely to support a given political regime, be more trusting of that system, and be less likely to engage in activities that challenge the system. If political efficacy is a disposition and a norm, then politically efficacious citizens believe that they can and should participate in politics. Contemporary views have reverted to the original emphasis on feelings, and conceptualize political efficacy as having two dimensions: internal efficacy, which reflects a personal sense of political competence, and external efficacy, the belief that the political system ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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