The accessibility and utility of candidate character in electoral decision making

Jeffery J. Mondak, Robert Huckfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In U.S. elections, the competence and integrity of candidates for office are among the factors that influence both the choices made by voters and the subsequent outcomes of electoral contests. Although past research has demonstrated that candidate character is highly consequential, much less is known regarding how, and under what conditions, information about character influences the individual-level candidate evaluation. We explore these questions using data from a series of computer-based laboratory experiments and a national survey. Results reveal that attitudes regarding competence and integrity are highly accessible, and that information about competence and integrity strongly influences assessments of candidates. However, no evidence was found that candidate character functions as a default basis of candidate evaluation to be used when information regarding political considerations such as partisanshp and ideology are unavailable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-34
Number of pages15
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitude accessibility
  • Candidate character
  • Candidate evaluation
  • Laboratory tests
  • National survey
  • United States Elections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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