Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation is composed of three papers on public attitudes toward US federal agencies. In the first, entitled ``Political Influences of Public Attitudes toward Federal Agencies,'' I argue that individuals rely on agency-adjacent political information to form their attitudes because bureaucratic politics are relatively low-salience and individuals hold little specific knowledge with which to evaluate agencies. Using nationally representative surveys administered from 2007 to 2018, I find that individuals rely on political information to evaluate agencies. Copartisanship with the president and one's ideology, and to a lesser extent partisanship, influence attitudes toward agencies; this effect persists over time but varies by agency. Further, institutional commitment to the bureaucracy suffers when support for agencies is low, but even the most sour assessments of agencies coincide with bureaucratic support. The second paper, entitled ``Client and Public Attitudes toward Federal Agencies and Bureaucracy,'' evaluates the systematic ability of client relationships with federal agencies to educate both clients and the public about agencies as political organizations. I suggest that the unique and concrete information acquired via interactions should intensify evaluations and that positive experiences beget support for the agency. Further, I explore how attitudes toward specific agencies extrapolate to support for the bureaucracy. Using observational survey data and a regressions, I find that client experiences do not consistently relate to the intensity or quality of attitudes toward agencies; abstract evaluations of performance, however, do. Perceptions of one’s client agency further translate to support for the bureaucracy. The third paper of the dissertation, entitled ``The Effect of Federal Agencies' Procedures on Public Opinion and Behavior,'' experimentally examines the effect of fair agency procedures during a public meeting on public perceptions of agency legitimacy and the translation of beliefs about legitimacy to collaborative actions with the agency. Results from a vignette survey experiment indicate that learning about agency behaviors only deleteriously contributes to legitimacy evaluations but that beliefs about legitimacy positively predict willingness to cooperate with and empower the agency. Collectively, the findings suggest that fair procedures do not ultimately motivate the public to act collaboratively with agencies.
Chair and Committee
Andrew J. Reeves
Daniel Butler, Dino P. Christenson, Jon Rogowski, Keith Schnakenberg,
Ang, Zoe, "Three Essays on Public Attitudes toward Federal Agencies" (2023). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2827.