How Internal Political Efficacy Translates Political Knowledge Into Political Participation

Frank Reichert


This study presents evidence for the mediation effect of political knowledge through political self-efficacy (i.e. internal political efficacy) in the prediction of political participation. It employs an action theoretic approach—by and large grounded on the Theory of Planned Behaviour—and uses data from the German Longitudinal Election Study to examine whether political knowledge has distinct direct effects on voting, conventional, and/or unconventional political participation. It argues that political knowledge raises internal political efficacy and thereby indirectly increases the chance that a citizen will participate in politics. The results of mediated multiple regression analyses yield evidence that political knowledge indeed translates into internal political efficacy, thus it affects political participation of various kinds indirectly. However, internal political efficacy and intentions to participate politically yield simultaneous direct effects only on conventional political participation. Sequentially mediated effects appear for voting and conventional political participation, with political knowledge being mediated by internal political efficacy and subsequently also by behavioural intentions. The mediation patterns for unconventional political participation are less clear though. The discussion accounts for restrictions of this study and points to questions for answer by future research.


action theory; Germany; internal political efficacy; political knowledge; political participation; Theory of Planned Behaviour; voting

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