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Political Cynicism: Conceptualization, Operationalization, and Explanation

Henk Dekker, Frits Meijerink

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In this article we empirically test an explanatory model for political cynicism. A quota sample of 543 Dutch youngsters completed a questionnaire, consisting of 62 mainly closed-ended single- and multiitem questions, during regular school hours. Results show that a combined model derived from socialization and inference theories fits the data well and explains 43 percent of the variance in political cynicism. The model demonstrates that general cynicism has the strongest effect, followed by a negative perception of how one’s own country is doing in general and the emotion of disgust with politics, and finally by a lack of political knowledge, a politically negative socialization by parents and best friend, a negative self-esteem, and the emotions of political disappointment and anger.

Keywords: political cynicism – political trust – political knowledge – political disgust – political socialization