An Audit of Political Behavior Research

Joshua Robison, Randy T. Stevenson, James N. Druckman*, Simon Jackman, Jonathan N. Katz, Lynn Vavreck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


What are the most important concepts in the political behavior literature? Have experiments supplanted surveys as the dominant method in political behavior research? What role does the American National Election Studies (ANES) play in this literature? We utilize a content analysis of over 1,100 quantitative articles on American mass political behavior published between 1980 and 2009 to address these questions. We then supplement this with a second sample of articles published between 2010 and 2018. Four key takeaways are apparent. First, the agenda of this literature is heavily skewed toward understanding voting to a relative lack of attention to specific policy attitudes and other topics. Second, experiments are ascendant, but are far from displacing surveys, and particularly the ANES. Third, while important changes to this agenda have occurred over time, it remains much the same in 2018 as it was in 1980. Fourth, the centrality of the ANES seems to stem from its time-series component. In the end, we conclude that the ANES is a critical investment for the scientific community and a main driver of political behavior research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • American national selection studies
  • political behavior
  • political science
  • public opinion
  • quantitative political science
  • social sciences
  • surveys
  • voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'An Audit of Political Behavior Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this