Lobbying transparency and attitudes towards interest groups: a survey experiment

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Abstract

Despite the growing interest for lobbying in public opinion research, little is known about citizen’s attitudes towards interest groups, especially after legislation making lobbying transparent is passed. Using data from a pre-registered survey experiment conducted with a panel of 569 participants from the Republic of Ireland, this study shows that when exposed to information about lobbying conducted by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and business organisations, citizens do not improve their evaluations of interest groups. Surprisingly, against the general expectations found in the transparency literature, information about lobbying does not trigger positive changes in attitudes. A post hoc analysis of the participants’ reactions to the transparency treatment reveals that citizens may have little interest or understanding of political activities such as lobbying. The study, however, also reveals that lobbying transparency does not backfire producing unexpected negative effects. This adds a new perspective to the recent debate on how public opinion responds to interest group behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalInterest Groups & Advocacy
Early online date15 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 15 Mar 2024

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