A Caltech Library Service

An Audit of Political Behavior Research

Robison, Joshua and Stevenson, Randy T. and Druckman, James N. and Jackman, Simon and Katz, Jonathan N. and Vavreck, Lynn (2018) An Audit of Political Behavior Research. SAGE Open, 8 (3). pp. 1-14. ISSN 2158-2440. doi:10.1177/2158244018794769.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.

[img] MS Word - Supplemental Material
Creative Commons Attribution.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Katz, Jonathan N.0000-0002-5287-3503
Additional Information:© 2018 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( Article first published online: August 13, 2018; Issue published: April 1, 2018. We thank the many coders who helped with data collection. In particular, we appreciate the extensive coding done by Emily Alvarez, Sylvia Friedel, Brian Harrison, Andrew Gooch, Stacey Greene, S. R. Gubitz, Diana Ichpekova, Samara Klar, Jeremy Levy, Heather Madonia, Kevin Mullinix, Matthew Nelsen, Kumar Ramanathan, Rob Shrode, and Mara Suttmann-Lea. Authors’ Note: Data (with a codebook) used in this article are available here: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Subject Keywords:political behavior, political science, social sciences, voting, public opinion, surveys, American national selection studies, quantitative political science
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180830-091610406
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:An Audit of Political Behavior Research. Joshua Robison, Randy T. Stevenson, James N. Druckman, Simon Jackman, Jonathan N. Katz, and Lynn Vavreck. SAGE Open. First Published August 13, 2018
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:89301
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Aug 2018 16:30
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 00:34

Repository Staff Only: item control page