Passing the buck? Responsibility attribution and cognitive bias in multilevel democracies Articles uri icon

publication date

  • February 2018

start page

  • 660

end page

  • 682


  • 3


  • 41

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0140-2382

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1743-9655


  • This paper explores the effect of national partisanship and Euroscepticism on individuals' causal responsibility attribution in European multilevel democracies. It is particularly focused on the average differences in responsibility attribution in federal and non-federal states, as well as in countries belonging to different European Union enlargement waves. Using a pooled dataset of the 2004, 2009, and 2014 European Election Studies, results show that when poor economic outcomes are at stake, partisans of the national incumbent in federal states are more likely to assign responsibility to regional governments following a blame-attribution logic, while this logic is absent in non-federal states. Likewise, Eurosceptic individuals are more likely to assign responsibility to European authorities when they hold negative views of the economy and they belong to countries that have been European Union members for a longer period.


  • Sociology


  • multilevel systems; responsibility attribution; cognitive bias; blame; credit