The premise of our article is that repeated exposure to antipublic sector messages affects the way people evaluate the performance of public sector organizations.

More specifically, we argue that individuals’ implicit attitudes regarding public sector organizations are biased: Citizens automatically and unconsciously associate public sector organizations with inefficiency, inflexibility, and other pejoratives, and these automatic associations color their assessments of public sector performance. Implicit antipublic sector bias has important theoretical implications. It may help to explain whether, and to what degree, individuals respond favorably to positive public sector performance information.

More specifically, it suggests that individuals’ evaluations of government performance will be weighed down by their deep-seated, unconscious views of the public sector; that the effect of information on individuals’ performance evaluations will be short-lived; and that individuals’ underlying beliefs about public sector performance will be difficult to change. We design three survey experiments to investigate these propositions, focusing on individuals’ evaluations of United States Postal Service (USPS) performance. We find evidence for each proposition.

Attribution: Research and Theory, Volume 26, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 143–158,

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