John Zaller

John R. Zaller (born 1949) is a political scientist and professor specializing in public opinion at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was an Editor of the American Political Science Review. He graduated from Saint Monica Catholic High School in Santa Monica, CA. He pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Riverside. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984. Zaller is best known for his 1992 book The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion, in which he argues that changes in public opinion are due to the influences of political elites. Although he acknowledges the mainstream media's shortcomings, Zaller holds a positive view of "infotainment", arguing that even sensationalist and superficial media coverage of politics serves to inform and does increase awareness of political issues. Zaller teaches undergraduate classes on electoral politics and the mass media's influence on public opinion in election cycles as well as graduate classes on political behavior and intermediate statistical analysis. Zaller is a part of the UCLA School of Political Parties, which holds that political parties are created by intense policy demanders, rather than by ambitious politicians. Continue Reading »

The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion

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