Political Knowledge and Perceptions of Influence in Political Conversation

People are poor judges of both their own skills and the mental states of others. This creates important differences in perceptions of influence in conversations about politics. In this study, I explore how political knowledge and sociodemographic characteristics pattern perceptions of influence in political conversation. I use data from two field experiments in which respondents were randomly paired and asked to discuss a political issue on an anonymous messaging app. I find that people with low levels of political knowledge think that they have higher levels of influence on their discussion partners than people with high levels of political knowledge, controlling for their actual influence. These kinds of patterned misperceptions can lead to other conversational outcomes, including conversation enjoyment and perhaps future participation in political conversation.