The poliheuristic (PH) theory of decision making has made important contributions to our understanding of political decision making but remains silent about certain key aspects of the decision process. Specifically, PH theory contends that leaders screen out politically unacceptable options, but it provides no guidance on (1) the crucial threshold at which leaders reject options as politically unacceptable, (2) whether this threshold varies across leaders and situations, and, (3) if so, which factors shape variation in this threshold. We integrate PH theory with research on political leadership and decision context and derive hypotheses from this modified PH framework. An experimental test reveals that situational context and leadership style affect both (1) the "noncompensatory threshold" at which decision makers reject options as politically unacceptable and (2) how much decision makers rely on their constituents' views in making policy choices. We conclude that a modified PH theory incorporating these insights will have enhanced explanatory and predictive power.
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