Political knowledge, attribution, and inferred interest in politics: the operation of buffer items

The insertion of a one public relations item between a political knowledge and a political interest question reduced the impact of political knowledge questions on self-reported interest in public affairs. It has been reported that being unable to answer a political knowledge question reduced self-reported interest in public affairs. This result was unaffected by the use of up to 101 unrelated buffer questions. Recent findings show that a single buffer question which allowed respondents to use an external reason for their lack of knowledge greatly reduced this context effect.