- October 2021
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- Western publics show a sizable support for experts" involvement in political decision making, that is, technocratic attitudes. This article analyzes two key aspects of these attitudes: technocratic attitudes" stability and the heterogeneity in the demand for experts depending on the context. We first analyze how technocratic attitudes have been affected by an external event, the COVID-19 pandemic, that has placed experts" role at the forefront of the public debate; this allows us to analyze the stability or change in these attitudes. Second, given that the pandemic quickly evolved from being a public health issue to becoming a political issue combining economic and public health dimensions, we examine whether framing the COVID-19 pandemic exclusively as a public health problem or as including a prominent economic dimension as well affects the type of public officials who are preferred to lead the political management of the crisis (independent experts with diverse professional skills or party politicians belonging to different parties and with a specialization in different policy fields). We pursue these two research goals through a panel survey conducted in Spain at two different time points, one before and another during the pandemic, in which we measure technocratic attitudes using an exhaustive battery; and through a survey experiment combining a conjoint design and a framing experiment. Results show that, first, technocratic attitudes have significantly increased as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak; second, people's preference for experts prevails against any other experimental treatment such as party affiliation; and, finally, preferences for the type of experts vary depending on the problem to be solved. In this way, this paper significantly increases our knowledge of the factors that affect variation in public attitudes towards experts" involvement in political decision-making.
- conjoint analysis; covid-19; experts; spain; technocratic attitudes