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Argument-stretching: (slightly) invalid political arguments and their effects on public opinion

Vossing, K. ORCID: 0000-0002-7269-0317 (2023). Argument-stretching: (slightly) invalid political arguments and their effects on public opinion. European Political Science Review, 16(1), pp. 35-55. doi: 10.1017/s1755773923000164


To stretch an argument means to make a political argument that is slightly (but not glaringly) invalid. I add to existing research, which focuses on the analysis of facts and stark binary views of validity by introducing the concept of argument-stretching, which identifies subtle violations of the validity of arguments. Using this conceptual foundation, I outline an impression-formation theory to explain the impact of argument-stretching on public opinion. I suggest that people spontaneously form negative impressions of stretched arguments, and that they add these impressions to a cumulative tally of satisfaction with the argument. Finally, people translate the negative effect of argument-stretching on their account satisfaction into reduced support for the politician who stretched the argument and the policy justified by it. I confirm the hypothesized direct effects of argument-stretching on policy support and politician support in three experimental studies, and I also find evidence for the mediating effect of account satisfaction.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of European Consortium for Political Research. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: political arguments; public opinion; argument validity; elite influence; political explanations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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