For as long as people have held opinions in the political realm, there has been research trying to decipher exactly what people think and believe as well as when they begin to hold these beliefs. This present study sorts the respondents studied into age cohorts and then follows them throughout the data. All of the data used in this study are from the National Election Study Data from 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. This study is a repeated cross-sectional study since different individuals are used throughout the study, and this study measures opinions only on the aggregate level. Sorting the respondents into age cohorts allows this study to track people of similar age as they respond to different life experiences as well as world events as they age. When appropriate, the data are compared to the main models of political socialization to determine how accurate these generally accepted models are. The items analyzed in this study vary greatly in subject as well as how specific they are. Everything from United States Presidential vote choices, opinions on affirmative action and federal welfare spending to political knowledge is analyzed to ascertain if these things interact with age, and if they do interact with age, to what extent. Besides observing opinions on these issues, certain issues will have their saliency measured throughout the years using the Somers' D statistic. This will help determine what issues people are thinking of when they are forming their ideology. The results from this paper show that some issues and beliefs, such as self-described ideology and political knowledge, are very strongly related to age. Other issues and beliefs in the political realm, such as strength of United States Presidential vote choice and opinions on federal welfare spending, seem to not be related to age or influenced heavily by period effects and other things besides age.


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Thesis Completion





Pollock, Phillip H.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program

Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis