Prior research has identified political efficacy and political interest as strong predictors of political participation, but few studies have examined these two attitudes in tandem or compared their relative importance vis-à-vis political participation. Drawing on the expectancy-value model of motivation, we begin to address this research gap while also considering several related issues. Our sample includes a diverse group of high school students in grades 10, 11, and 12 (N=422) from the midwestern United States. Through quantitative analyses of participants’ survey data, we found that political interest (a central aspect of value) and political efficacy (closely related to expectancy) predicted participants’ expected future political participation, controlling for background characteristics—and that political interest was a particularly strong predictor. In addition, we identified political engagement differences on various demographic measures, such as grade level. We also found a significant interaction between political interest and internal political efficacy, suggesting that high levels of both attitudes can have an especially positive effect on adolescents’ political participation. We discuss the implications of these findings for researchers and educators interested in fostering political engagement among youth.
Levy, Brett and Akiva, Thomas, "Motivating Political Participation Among Youth: An Analysis of Factors Related to Adolescents’ Political Engagement" (2019). Educational Theory and Practice Faculty Scholarship. 31.