Disinterested or enraged? Understanding people's political interest Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2023

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0001-6810

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-1416


  • Essentially unchanged measures of political interest have been included in every single survey on politics since the 60s, but recent research questions their validity. In addition, a context of increasing polarization around politics advices to re-examine what people have in mind when reporting political interest. To unpack what exactly the interest question is measuring, in this article we report the results of a mixed approach that combines qualitative and quantitative data. The first study consists of cognitive interviews to identify what comes to people¿s minds when asked about their political interest in surveys. The qualitative information is then used to inform an experiment embedded in a large N survey to tap into whether responses to survey questions about political interest are malleable to affective frames. Results show that the affective dimension seems to be particularly critical regarding answers to the political interest question but that the levels are marginally malleable to a negative frame. Overall, political interest appears to capture respondents¿ affective relation to politics and to do so consistently.


  • Sociology