The Invisible Arm of Government: Some Reflections on the Political Psychology of Public Goods and Services

12 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2019

See all articles by Gregg G. Van Ryzin

Gregg G. Van Ryzin

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Newark

Date Written: September 12, 2019

Abstract

This paper argues that the important work of government often goes unnoticed in the public mind because of how public goods and services are experienced psychologically by citizens. Specifically, it suggests that several cognitive mechanisms and biases—habituation, inattentional blindness, negativity bias, attribution error, and present bias—combine to shape public awareness and subjective evaluations of government. These theoretical ideas are illustrated in the case of specific public services, and a few practical ideas are proposed to address the problem. Importantly, these various mechanisms and biases can have important political consequences to the extent they influence preferences for public goods and services in the political process.

Keywords: public goods, government performance, accountability

JEL Classification: H41, H83

Suggested Citation

Van Ryzin, Gregg G., The Invisible Arm of Government: Some Reflections on the Political Psychology of Public Goods and Services (September 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3452702 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3452702

Gregg G. Van Ryzin (Contact Author)

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Newark ( email )

180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
United States

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