Cale Horne

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Without exception, studies of the cognitive dimensions of the public's policy preferences have been confined to Western, democratic states. Unexplored are the cognitive dimensions of preference in non-democracies, where public opinion may not matter for policymakers, or even exist in an appreciable way. I argue that, if public opinion toward policy in a non-democracy does exist, the same cognitive determinants of preference should apply. Using 2006 public opinion data from Iran, I find strong evidence for the existence of meaningful public opinion toward policy, and striking continuity between the Iranian case and similar cognitive studies conducted in democratic contexts. These findings suggest new possibilities for survey data as a window into the opaque world of autocratic domestic politics.

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