Nordic Youth Research Symposium (NYRIS) ‘Changing Societies and Cultures: Youth in the Digitial Age’ location:Tallin, Estonia date:12-14 June 2013
In this article, we investigate the methodological difference between perceived measures and actual measures in political socialization research on the influence of - for instance - family or other social network members on the development of one’s personal attitudes or preferences. More specifically, we analyze the process of intergenerational transmission of political preferences within the family using both perceived measures of one family member (i.e. the adolescent respondent) on the one hand and actual preferences (measured among father, mother and child separately) on the other hand to make statements on data reliability. We build on the results of the Parent-Child Socialization Study (PCSS), conducted in Belgium among 2,085 mother/father/child triads. In this survey, respondents were questioned not only about their own voting intention, but also about the perceived vote of the other family members. Results show that there is indeed an important difference between the two. First, adolescents tend to vastly overestimate the political correspondence between themselves and their parents. Second, our analyses suggest that using perceptions of vote choice would lead socialization researchers to very different or even opposite results than using the actual individual vote choices. The study shows that one should be very careful when interpreting the socializing effects of other social network members, when these other members were not surveyed or interviewed themselves.