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Pathways to political efficacy – Theoretical considerations and empirical illustrations on youths’ acquisition of political efficacy

Sophia Sohl

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By scrutinizing previous research, I offer a merger of the two research disciplines concerning the concept of political efficacy, i.e. the perception held by individuals of their own abilities to execute actions aimed at producing a change in society. Four pathways for how political efficacy develops, building on the merged perspective, are then tested in a single two-step hierarchical OLS regression. The results show that mastery experiences, role models, encouragement, and empowering outlooks in a political setting are predictors of youths’ political efficacy, over and above the effects of political interest and perceived political knowledge. This study contributes to theorizing about the development of political efficacy by discussing understanding of the concept, with input from both political science and psychology, and by empirically testing an existing multidisciplinary theory.

Keywords: political efficacy – youth – development – political socialization – psychopolitical factors