Clarifying Responsibility in Europe: How Increasing Awareness about the EU’s Influence in Policy Making Affects Attitudes to European Integration

Research question/goal: 

The purpose of this study was to investigate how attitudes to European integration are influenced by information from a number of policy spheres that is likely to affect the attribution of policy responsibility to the European Union. This question was addressed using a series of survey experiments in an attempt to try and uncover the chain of causal processes not picked up by studies that employ observational data. The project investigated the effects of educating citizens about the EU’s roles in a number of policy domains when highlighting the differences in the extent of the clarity of responsibility in relation to institutions at the national level.

We conducted a series of survey experiments that varied the information respondents received about the extent of influence exerted by the European Union and the national government in specific policy domains. Participants in online surveys were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Treatments covered the economy in general, particular aspects of the economy and aspects of foreign policy, while control groups received placebo stimuli. The treatments involved both neutral sources and subjective ones, such as political parties and the institutions themselves.

We found very little difference between the control group and the groups that received stimuli prompting them to consider the responsibility of the institution. Similarly, there was little discernible difference in the attitudes to either European integration or the attribution of responsibility to the European Union. Whilst it was not possible to alter the actual level of institutional responsibility in an experimental setting, we also found no evidence that priming with new information about institutions and policy outcomes altered respondents’ allocation of institutional responsibility.

Fact sheet

University of Mannheim
2013 to 2016
Data Sources: 
Primary data collection
Geographic Space: