Ignorance is Bliss? Age, Misinformation, and Support for Women's Representation

Barry C. Burden*, Yoshikuni Ono

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Most people overestimate how many women have been elected to Congress and state legislatures, but this misinformation reduces with age. Multivariate analysis of our original survey data confirms that young people are prone to overestimating how many seats are held by women, and this pattern is especially sharp among male respondents. In addition, a memory of being represented by a woman in the past tends to inflate overestimates further. Erroneous thinking among the young may produce an "ignorance is bliss"effect by reducing the apparent need to elect more women to office and raising levels of trust in government. In contrast, more realistic beliefs among older people make the dominance of men in public office more apparent and actionable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-859
Number of pages22
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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