Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Young Adults' Knowledge of Politics: Evaluating the Role of Socio-Cognitive Variables Using Structural Equations

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Young Adults' Knowledge of Politics: Evaluating the Role of Socio-Cognitive Variables Using Structural Equations

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to create an explanatory model that allows analyzing the predictive power of a set of variables related to political knowledge; more specifically, to analyze the relationship between the education level of young adults and the variables, interest in politics and internal political efficacy. We also analyzed the combined relationship between these variables, together with age, and political knowledge. We worked with a sample group of 280 young adults between the ages of 18-30 from the city of Córdoba (Argentina). The data was subjected to a structural equation modelling SEM analysis, which allowed for the corroboration of the following hypotheses: the higher the education level, the more the interest in politics; the higher the education level, the better the perception of internal political efficacy; the higher the education level, the more the political knowledge; the more the interest in politics, the more the political knowledge; and the better the perception of internal political efficacy, the more interest in politics. Moreover, the following hypotheses could not be verified: the older an individual, the more the political knowledge; and the better the perception of internal political efficacy, the more the political knowledge. The model obtained allows for discussion of the explanatory value of these socio-cognitive variables.

Keywords: political knowledge, interest in politics, political efficacy, young adults.

El presente estudio tuvo como objetivo elaborar un modelo explicativo que permita analizar el poder predictivo de un conjunto de variables que mostraron tener relación con el conocimiento político. Específicamente, analizar la relación del nivel educativo de los jóvenes sobre las variables interés en la política y eficacia política interna; además, la relación conjunta de estas variables y la edad sobre el conocimiento político. Se trabajó con una muestra de 280 jóvenes de 18 a 30 años de edad, de la ciudad de Córdoba (Argentina). Los datos fueron sometidos a un análisis SEM, permitiendo corroborar las hipótesis que indicaban que a mayor nivel educativo mayor nivel de interés político; a mayor nivel educativo mayor percepción de eficacia política interna; a mayor nivel educativo mayor nivel de conocimiento político; a mayor nivel de interés político mayor nivel de conocimiento político; y a mayor percepción de eficacia política interna mayor nivel de interés político. Asimismo, no se pudieron corroborar las hipótesis que postulaban que a mayor edad de los jóvenes mayor nivel de conocimiento político y a mayor percepción de eficacia política interna mayor nivel de conocimiento político. El modelo obtenido permite discutir el valor explicativo de las variables sociocognitivas.

Palabras clave: conocimiento político, interés político, eficacia política, jóvenes.

Political Knowledge (PK) is one of the core variables in the study of mass political behavior and differs from other components of political involvement for being objective rather than subjective. Citizens vary substantially not only in their levels of information or political knowledge but also in the content of this information: current issues, active individuals in politics and government, constitutional principles underlying the government, the real-life operation of the political system, among others.

Our approach to PK is formed specifically by sociocognitive theory. Numerous studies (Brussino & Rabbia, 2007; Fiske, Lau, & Smith, 1990; Gordon & Segura, 1997; Rhee & Capella, 1997; Somin, 2006) maintain that PK is an indicator of the degree of development of political systems. As a result, exposure to political information, motivation, and cognitive ability define the cognitive process and the learning or level of PK. From this analytical perspective, motivation, ability and opportunity are inextricably connected. Among the motivational dimensions, Van Deth (2000) refers to interest in politics as the degree to which politics appeal to the curiosity of citizens. …

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