October 27, 2006

Major Research Instrumentation

NSF Grant: Jon Krosnick, principal investigator

Development of a Computer Network for Experimental and Non-Experimental Data Collection via the Internet from a Nationally Representative Sample of American Households

In recent years, we have seen two remarkable trends: (1) a sharp increase across the social sciences in the use of survey data to address a wide range of important theoretical issues involving the nature of contemporary social life and the workings of the human mind, and (2) a sharp increase in the fiscal costs of conducting high-quality surveys, coupled with a precipitous decline in the response rates of such surveys. The social sciences therefore need quick innovation in survey methodology to permit costeffective collection of accurate data from highly representative samples. This proposal seeks funds to build a tool for data collection for social scientists that would bring a new standard of accuracy to the data, broader accessibility for social scientists at reduced cost, blending the analytic power afforded by a state-of-the art computer network laboratory with the generalization power afforded by a representative sample survey of American households. Specifically, the proposal seeks funds for three categories of expenses: (1) purchase of computer hardware, (2) installation of the computer hardware in a representative sample of 1,000 households across the country, and (3) calibration of a national network of these computers via the Internet, testing to assure that it works properly to permit social science data collection. The network will equip scholars around the world to do path-breaking research that could not be achieved by any methodology currently in use and would considerably increase the importance of the data we collect, analyze, and report. To achieve these goals, sampling statisticians at RTI International, one of the nation’s leading survey research organizations, would draw a representative sample of American households using an innovative method based upon U.S. postal service mailing address lists. Then, RTI installation specialists would visit the selected households, randomly select an adult household member, conduct a brief and enjoyable interview with him or her (with an expected response rate of about 80%), and then offer him or her a free laptop computer and free (for those not already equipped with) high-speed Internet connection in exchange for using the equipment to provide data once a month via the Internet. The interviewers would install the computers, walk respondents through the process of using them, and calibrate the equipment on site to work properly. Then, once a month, respondents would provide a new round of data by accessing a secure webpage, and calibration of the computer network would be conducted. A range of different evaluations of the network will be performed, gauging the response rate achieved for the initial in-home interview, the rate at which interviewed respondents agree to accept the computer equipment, the rate at which participating panel members complete each monthly data collection, the rate at which initially participating individuals drop out of the panel completely, sample composition biases that result from attrition, the impact of the initial recruitment response rate on sample and response quality, the presence of random and systematic measurement error in responses, and comparisons of the survey data against benchmarks to gauge accuracy. In addition to making measurements to permit these evaluations, the computer network will be used to ask questions designed by an interdisciplinary community of scholars who submit proposals to the American National Election Studies (www.electionstudies.org) to study the dynamics of the 2008 season of presidential primaries and the general election campaign. Beginning data collection in late 2007 and running at least through late 2008, the computer network can collect data on the panel of Americans’ views of the country, of the candidates, and of the election process in order to yield unprecedented insights into the long-term social and psychological dynamics of the democratic process. If this effort is successful, it will provide scientific and practical justification for the implementation of this approach to experimental and non-experimental survey data collection on a much larger scale, which would enable academic researchers, federal, state, and local government agencies, and private commercial and non-commercial organizations to conduct the highest quality research at a practical price. For example, the highest response rate surveys done in this country each bear the full costs of recruiting all of their respondents from scratch, which makes it extremely expensive for these survey projects to meet the high standards of response rates required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (which must approve all federal surveys). If the proposed computer network is created and proves to be effective, it would allow agencies to share the costs of sample recruitment across many projects, thus yielding high response rates at much more manageable costs. In essence, this project seeks to explore whether it is possible to create the equivalent of an astronomer’s telescope for shared collection and analysis of social science data on a wide range of topics to advance the study of social change using the highest quality methodologies. The net result will be a measurement tool that affords more precision, accuracy, and stimulus delivery facility than any existing computer network available today for social science research, experimental and non-experimental.

Posted by cthomsen at 12:19 PM

Philanthropy and Civil Society

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Grant: Debra Meyerson and Walter Powell, principal investigators

The grant provides the foundation for creating a new center on philanthropy and civil society, with a mission to engage students, faculty, and practitioners in examining ways in which philanthropic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and other key elements of civil society work to address public interests, both in the United States and abroad.

Posted by cthomsen at 12:09 PM

Sawyer Seminar on the Dynamics of Inequality

Mellon Foundation Grant: David Grusky, principal investigator

We live in an extraordinary period in which the structure of social inequality is changing in unusually rapid, complicated, and sometimes mystifying ways. Whereas scholars in some disciplines, such as sociology, are seemingly entranced by the possibility that class-based inequalities are weakening, scholars elsewhere attend to unprecedented increases in income inequality and a deepening spatial divide between rich and poor. The fields of race and gender inequality likewise reveal a tension between scholars who observe the rise of formally egalitarian attitudes and institutional practices and those who emphasize, instead, the persistence of discrimination, segregation, and wage gaps. The task of making sense of this constellation of trends is of course complicated by the usual disciplinary divides. Although there are long-standing literatures on trends in gender, race, ethnic, income, and class inequality, many of these literatures have developed quite separately and independently of one another. It is not, however, such balkanization alone that is to be blamed for our piecemeal and narrow-gauged understanding of trends in inequality. Additionally, most of these literatures focus quite obsessively on proximate sources of trend (e.g., a presumed decline in overt discrimination), whereas the larger forces that underlie these disparate proximate sources (e.g., competition, egalitarianism, rationalization) are either assumed or ignored.

The rationale for proposing a Sawyer seminar on The Dynamics of Inequality is that this extreme specialization and the consequent narrowing of our explanatory accounts might be resisted and overcome by having representatives of these various literatures come together. The following lines of questioning might be usefully pursued in the context of a Sawyer seminar:

Questions of grand narratives: Is there reason to revisit the old grand narratives of change or to forge new ones that might account for the seemingly disparate trends in inequality? Might we understand the ongoing diffusion of egalitarian values as a grand Hegelian logic that explains a diverse array of proximate changes (e.g., the spread of bureaucratization, the rise of antidiscrimination law)? Are all forms of inequality being delegitimated? Or are some forms more resistant to delegitimation than others? Do essentialist stories about gender, for example, have a greater resonance and continuing legitimacy among the public than essentialist stories about class or race? Does the egalitarian logic come to be modified in any important respect as it diffuses to “newer” divides (e.g., sexual orientation, alienage/citizenship, disability)? How does the operation of other grand logics of history (e.g., rationalization, marketization) modify egalitarianism? Are these logics playing out in fundamentally different ways in states with different political traditions and institutions (e.g., social democratic versus liberal regimes)? In less-developed and more-developed countries?

Questions of backlash: In which domains are anti-egalitarian backlashes most likely? Are the sources of these backlashes much the same for all forms of inequality? Does a “functionalist” logic, for example, underlie contemporary support for pro-inequality tax breaks, contemporary opposition to affirmative action, and contemporary outbreaks of anti-feminist ideology? Or are each of these instances of anti-egalitarianism best understood in their own terms? Should we worry about grand disequilibrating events that might set the current logic of egalitarianism permanently on its head (e.g., a War on Terror)? Or should WWII be understood as a definitive history-resolving event on the question of egalitarianism?

Questions of policy: To what extent should social policy address these various dimensions of inequality as a piece? Is it feasible or desirable to develop a comprehensive policy on inequality? Or is each form so distinct in its underlying mechanisms and so different in its ethical implications as to require separate and special remedy?

Posted by cthomsen at 12:07 PM

Credible Commitments in International Relations

NSF CAREER Award: Michael Tomz, principal investigator

Problems of credibility are central to international relations. Every day, leaders make threats and promises when dealing with other countries. Without a world government that compels leaders to keep commitments, why—and when—should anyone take foreign leaders at their word? I propose an integrated program of research and education to explore this fundamental question. My work will focus on two potentially important markers of credibility. Did leaders go public by telling their own citizens about threats and promises they issued abroad? And did they go legal by embedding their commitments in treaties and other international agreements? Although the theoretical literature about public and legal commitments has advanced quickly, empirical research has not kept pace. The fundamental problem, which researchers have acknowledged but not satisfactorily overcome, is endogeneity. In precisely the situations when publicity and legalization would make it costly to renege, rational leaders will either follow through or avoid committing in the first place. This leaves scholars little chance to observe and measure the penalties that are central to our theoretical models. Research has also been hampered by insufficient data about perceptions. Do key actors believe public and legal commitments are more expensive to break? To know for sure, we need systematic data about the perceived costs of backtracking on public and legal commitments.
I propose to address these problems through the first-ever experimental analysis of public and legal commitments in international relations.

Posted by cthomsen at 12:00 PM

Exchange Network Transition: Uncertainty, Risk and Shifts in Mode of Exhange

NSF Grant: Karen Cook (Stanford) and Coye Cheshire (UC Berkeley), principal investigators

Social scientists have accumulated a large and growing body of theory and data on many distinct types of social exchange systems. It has been demonstrated through a long history of social exchange experiments that different forms of exchange yield different outcomes, to some extent as a function of the differences that exist in levels of risk and uncertainty inherent in these different forms of exchange. But prior work generally begins with fixed networks in which only one type of exchange can occur (e.g. negotiated or reciprocal exchange); in other words, the type of exchange is fixed by the experimenter for purposes of comparison. Modes of exchange do not change and they are not selected by the participants.

There is little or no research on the process of transitioning between different modes of social exchange. With the existing foundation of research on the structural and perceived differences between various major forms of social exchange, researchers are now in an ideal position to investigate the transitions between modes of exchange and the effects of these changes on exchange outcomes. This research proposal is a first step toward understanding the effects of changes in modes of exchange.

In this proposal the investigators develop a set of theoretically driven arguments for social exchange systems that transition (or shift) between reciprocal exchange and binding or non-binding negotiated exchange (which is only one of the possible types of transition in modes of exchange). These shifts can be structurally determined (i.e. the form of exchange occurs exogenously independent of the particular intentions or desires of the participants), or as agent-based transitions (i.e. in which individuals choose to move to a new mode of exchange based on their own experiences and dispositions). The researchers make several predictions about how agent-based transitions occur and about the attributions exchange outcomes that result from both structurally determined and agent-based transitions in mode exchange. Finally, the researchers propose a new set of social exchange experiments that will allow them to test hypotheses about social exchange transitions. By collaborating between Stanford University UC-Berkeley, the researchers will be able to combine resources (such as subject pools and experiment lab space) so that they can achieve much more than either could accomplish alone.

The potential intellectual merits of this proposal include advancing the theoretical tradition of social exchange processes, developing the first series of testable hypotheses concerning the effects of shifts between different modes of exchange and examining how individual attitudes and attributions about exchange partners change as a result of these transitions. This is one step in developing theory about the dynamics of exchange networks. The broader impact of this proposed research includes the capacity to directly address questions about processes and outcomes in rapidly changing systems of exchange such as business-to-business transactions (B2B), Internet-based exchanges, and other forms of real-world social exchange.

Given the strong foundation of theory and research that has accumulated about many different modes of social exchange, social scientists are now in a perfect position to build upon and advance this research by looking at the complex processes of social exchange transitions. Given increased interest in real-world systems of B2B and Internet-based exchange (which often challenge many assumptions about exchange processes, attributions, and outcomes), the opportunities for theoretical development and realworld applications of the study of transitions in modes of exchange are substantial.

Posted by cthomsen at 11:55 AM

Summer Workshop in Formal Demography

NIH Grant: Shripad Tuljapurkar and James H. Jones, principal investigators

Stanford is ushering in a new approach to studying populations—one that engages researchers from multiple disciplines, including anthropology, biology, economics and sociology. The goal is to encourage the use of demographic tools to solve some of today's complex challenges, such as the demographic impact of the AIDS epidemic, population aging and the possible extinction of some species.

"Pick any problem in the world, and I can guarantee there is a population component to it," said James Holland Jones, an assistant professor of anthropological sciences. "Training in formal demography has all but disappeared at a time when so many problems call for demography."

Shripad Tuljapurkar, professor of biological sciences and the Dean and Virginia Morrison Professor of Population Studies, kicked off the "Second Stanford Workshop in Formal Demography," held on campus Aug. 7-12. He presented a surprising problem: declining fertility rates around the world. For years, industrialized countries worried about the negative implications of overpopulation, including environmental impacts and resource limitations. Today, the concern is shifting from overpopulation to low fertility.

The fertility rate is the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, and demographers say a rate of 2.1 is needed to keep a population from declining. A number of countries have now fallen below the replacement rate, including Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and even China, whose total fertility rate has dropped from 5.8 in the 1970s to an estimated 1.73 today. In Hong Kong and Singapore, the fertility rate is even lower, estimated at 0.95 and 1.06, respectively.

"What happens in 20 years?" Tuljapurkar asked the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows attending the workshop. "That is a frightening rate of decline, especially in smaller countries."

In June, when Japan's health ministry announced that the country's fertility rate had fallen to an all-time low of 1.25, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said it would become one of the most important items on the policy agenda. Tuljapurkar explained to students that one concern about low fertility rates is that economic growth has been tied to population size. Another concern is that pension programs, such as Social Security, depend on the renewal of the working-age population. Tuljapurkar recently was appointed to the Technical Advisory Panel to the U.S. Social Security Advisory Board and has published extensively in demography.

Demography training

Some countries are taking steps to shore up their populations by using advertisements to encourage women to have children or by selectively increasing immigration. But do policymakers know what causes low fertility rates and what levers would be most effective in stemming the decline? Stanford's demography workshop, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, Stanford's Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and Stanford's Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies, teaches students and researchers how to find answers through improved demographic analyses.

"The workshop is a new model of training we are implementing with 15 faculty and 40 students—mostly PhDs—from across the country," Jones said. "We're trying to push innovative methodologies for demographers by covering formal demography, related analytical methods and models that are formulated as computer programs."

Jones and Tuljapurkar organized the workshop and are publishing a textbook and software package to supplement the training. Unlike many demographers who are sociologists, Jones is a biological anthropologist and Tuljapurkar is a biologist and demographer.

Posted by cthomsen at 11:45 AM

Studies of Spatial Reasoning in Political Choice

NSF Grant: Paul Sniderman and Mike Tomz, principal investigators

Spatial models are now central to research on electoral competition and democratic representation. Typically, the policy preferences of voters and candidates are arrayed on a number line, and voters choose the candidate closest to themselves. Despite the ubiquity of such models, we have relatively little empirical knowledge about how people use spatial information to make political decisions. To what extent do citizens accurately perceive the distance between themselves and candidates? Under what conditions do spatial distances underlie electoral choices? Two problems have impeded empirical research on these questions. First, we tend to observe the choices of voters only after candidates have adopted equilibrium positions. Spatial models tell us, though, that candidates face pressure to adopt the position of the median voter, leaving citizens to break the tie on other grounds. This creates an irony: the more spatial considerations drive politics, the harder it becomes to see their effects in public opinion surveys. Second, researchers typically rely on survey respondents to identify where voters and candidates stand in the issue space. This leads to a confound: it may appear that citizens applied the spatial criterion, when in fact they “projected” their own policy stance onto the candidate they liked for other reasons, or they were “persuaded” to adopt the position of their preferred candidate. Thus, two sources of bias, running in opposite directions, make it difficult to infer when voters use spatial criteria. Survey experiments can overcome these two problems of endogeneity. The core idea is to bring the location of candidates under experimental control. For each experiment, we describe the locations of candidates in an issue space and ask respondents to choose among them. This approach permits us to study how citizens respond to a wide range of candidate positions. The method also enables us to manipulate non-spatial influences on decision making, such as the party affiliation of the candidates. In the proposal, we offer many concrete examples of this method and explain how it can help us infer the effects of three factors—party affiliation, uncertainty, and the structure of elections—on the spatial perceptions and choices of citizens. First, we detail a basic experimental design for detecting partisan biases in spatial reasoning. We also extend the design to resolve a long-standing conundrum: the extent to which projection and/or persuasion underlay partisan bias. Second, we offer hypotheses about how respondents that are uncertain about their position or who encounter ambiguous candidates will make spatial choices. We also detail designs to test hypotheses about each. Third, we offer hypotheses and present experimental designs to investigate the impact of structural factors on spatial reasoning. They include choices in two dimensions, the role of the status quo, and the consequences of institutional constraints on policymakers. The proposal also discusses how our experimental design can speak to other debates in the field, including research on abstention and directional voting. Broader Impact: We believe this project will open up for examination from a new angle the nexus between the views of voters and the strategies of candidates. Our experiments address questions central to democratic politics: the reputations and roles of political parties, the effects of candidate ambiguity and credible commitments, and the way citizens make choices when candidates take positions in multidimensional versus one-dimensional issue spaces. We hope this research will contribute to both the theory and practice of democracy. This project could also advance the trend toward integrating formal and behavioral approaches in social science. Our proposal is part of an initiative by the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) at Stanford to (1) bring together researchers from across the social sciences to extend the use of randomized experiments, and (2) establish a multi-university working group to translate principles of behavioral economics into the study of political choice. We also believe the project will enhance education. To this end, we will incorporate data and methods from our project into a new module on “Experimentation in the Social Sciences,” which we will propose for the Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models summer program.

Posted by cthomsen at 11:41 AM

Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

NSF Grant: Karen Cook, principal investigator

EDGE-SBE is one of a number of programs funded by the National Science Foundation with the intent of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the social, behavioral and economic sciences, who enter and complete PhD programs and go on to jobs in the professioriate.

EDGE-SBE is a collaboration between Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M University.

At Stanford, EDGE-SBE is a broadly interdisciplinary program with connections to the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCRSE) and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS).

The diversity director at Stanford is Laura Lopez-Sanders, who focuses on recruiting and retaining underrepresented minority students in political science, psychology and sociology.

EDGE-SBE offers the following forms of support:

Graduate Diversity Fellowships--These are "add-ons" to the basic financial packages offered by the departments. Among other things, these funds help support research by the fellows and travel by fellows to professional conferences.

One-on-One Mentoring--In addition, to any advisors assigned by their department, EDGE fellows are assigned to a faculty mentor and a graduate student mentor in their discipline. These mentors work with EDGE-SBE to help the student make a successful transition to graduate school and to the professoriate.

Connections to Colleagues at Other Institutions--A yearly conference supported by EDGE-SBE allows Fellows to present ideas, obtain feedback and network with peers and professors at the participating universities.The idea is that this is a highly supportive environment that fosters both professional and personal connections.


Individuals interested in participating in EDGE-SBE should contact Laura Lopez-Sanders at Laura Lopez-Sanders@stanford.edu.

Posted by vijoy at 11:12 AM

Survey Research Methodology Optimization for the Science Resource Statistics Program

NSF Grant: Jon Krosnick, principal investigator

The Division of Science Resource Statistics at the National Science Foundation has been conducting a large series of ambitious surveys that are used widely by policy makers, private sector researchers, academics, and others throughout the U.S. and around the world. These surveys have always been designed to achieve the highest methodological standards to minimize sampling error and measurement error, so as to provide the strongest possible bases for making inferences about the populations of interest. These populations include the general U.S. population, as well as subpopulations such as PhD recipients, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, undergraduates, and others. Some of the SRS projects are single cross-sectional surveys, and others are long-term panels that involving tracking cohorts of respondents over many years and implementing repeated measurements. At this time in its history, SRS?s surveys are increasingly challenging, because of a general trend in US survey research toward increasing costs of data collection. It is increasingly expensive to reach potential respondents, and it is increasingly expensive to convince individuals who are initially reluctant to participate in surveys. Therefore, in order to continue to maintain the high quality standards for which SRS surveys are known while accommodating existing budgets, it is increasingly important to get the best bang for the buck when designing these studies. Good design decisions can be made in many domains of the enterprise. Efforts to locate potential respondents can be optimized. The language and visual displayed used when first approaching a potential respondent can be optimized. The design of the questions and questionnaire used can be optimized. The strategy for the timing of attempts to contact potential respondents can be optimized. The strategy used to attempt refusal conversions can be optimized. And so on. This cooperative agreement is intended to fund a series of studies that will help to optimize SRS survey design by fostering collaboration between SRS staff and Professor Jon Krosnick of Stanford University. Four particular projects are outlined for initial efforts under the agreement: (1) evaluating the impact of incentives on survey participation and response quality, (2) optimizing the design, layout, and wording of written materials mailed to respondents to maximize the likelihood that they will participate in the survey, (3) evaluating the impact of lower response rates on data quality, and (4) optimizing the procedure for tracking respondents between waves of panel survey cycles, to minimize later wave non-response, This work has intellectual merit because it will be based on well-established theories of survey methodology, and the findings of this work will have theoretical implications for improving understanding the processes of social science data collection and optimizing those methods. The insights gained from this work can and will be distributed broadly to the survey research community to understand principles of incentivizing behaviors generally, eliciting cooperation generally, and understanding the determinants of non-participation in collective enterprises for the public good. We plan to publish as many findings as possible from this work. The proposed activities will promote training because a graduate student and undergraduates at Stanford will play active roles in the work, thereby gaining valuable professional experience. Because sample surveys are devoted to collecting data from all segments of society, and because under-represented groups tend to participate in surveys at especially low rates, the efforts of this research seek to broaden their representation in survey datasets and policy-making. This work is completely devoted to enhancing the infrastructure for research that SRS surveys constitute. The societal benefits of this work will focus on enhancing the quality of SRS survey data, which play important roles in federal and private sector strategic planning.

Posted by cthomsen at 10:57 AM

May 22, 2006

American National Elections Studies

NSF Grant: Jon Krosnick (Stanford) and Arthur Lupia (Michigan), principal investigators

Why do Americans vote as they do on Election Day? Answering this question illuminates some of the most fundamental aspects of American politics in particular and of democracy more generally. To understand election outcomes is to understand the relationship between rulers and ruled, governors and governed, leaders and followers, representatives and constituents in democratic nations. The effects of election outcomes on power relationships, public policy, and citizens’ quality of life are widely felt and long lasting.

A full account of why Americans vote as they do in any election requires an analysis done at many levels and with reference to many causal factors. The story must include references to historic events unfolding around the world, the activities of organizations such as political parties and labor unions, shifts in the U.S. economy, choices made by the mass media, allocations of advertising dollars by campaign strategists, and much more.

And indeed, there is no shortage of such accounts. Media pundits begin to offer explanations on the airwaves and in print even before the polls close. The victorious and defeated candidates propose their own stories of the forces at work. Ordinary citizens in coffee shops and cafés around the country make sense of these historic moments in more personal ways, while observers in other nations apply their own meanings to these events.

The mission of the American National Election Studies (ANES) is to inform explanations of election outcomes and to enrich and deepen the theoretical tools developed, refined, and tested by social scientists for the purpose of understanding collective decision-making and the nature of modern governance. ANES serves this mission by providing researchers with a view of the political world through the eyes of ordinary citizens. Such data are critical, because, in the end, these people’s actions determine electoral outcomes. One candidate’s victory and others’ defeats are the cumulative results of people pulling levers, coloring in empty ovals, punching out chads, drawing connections between pairs of adjacent horizontal lines, or deciding to stay at home instead. To understand election results, we must explain what happened in the minds of these actors, describing what propelled them down the behavioral paths they chose. The impact of all forces at work, forces that range from images in advertisements to shifts in the unemployment rate and beyond, ultimately passed through the hands that pulled, colored, punched, drew, or abstained.

With the help of ANES, social scientists have been in this business for over 50 years. And with each passing year of scholarship, the portraits and profiles they offer are richer, more detailed, and more accurate. With new discoveries, however, come new questions about the causes and consequences of electoral behaviors. Therefore, we write seeking support to continue the ANES mission for the next four years, but in new and better ways than ever before.

Posted by cthomsen at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2005

NSF awards $7.6 million for the American National Elections Studies

Press Release

Contacts: Jon Krosnick, 650-851-9143 Arthur Lupia, 734-647-7549

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $7.6 million to fund the American National Election Studies (ANES) to study the causes of voter participation and candidate choice in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

This award represents a dramatic increase in NSF’s funding for the project, more than doubling the financial support it received during 2002-2005.

The ANES was created by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) in 1952 and has conducted gold-standard national surveys every two years since then to equip scholars around the world to study American voting behavior and election outcomes.

Thousands of books, journal articles, book chapters, and conference presentations have been based upon ANES data during the last five decades.

2006 will mark the first time that the project will be co-directed by the ISR and a partner, Stanford University’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS).

The substantial increase in funding for the project is the result of two years of advisory workshops held by NSF to evaluate the study’s scientific value and innovative directions for its future.

“This award allows us to conduct the project in much bigger and better ways than has ever been possible,” said Arthur Lupia, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan and a principal investigator of the project. “We are excited to have Stanford at the helm of the study with us, bringing valuable new expertise in survey design and measurement.”

“NSF’s ringing endorsement of the project is a wonderful recognition of 50 years of important scholarship by hundreds of social scientists studying elections and will equip them superbly to continue this important work,” said Jon Krosnick, the other principal investigator of the project and a Stanford professor of political science, psychology, and communication.

The centerpiece of the 2005-2009 study will be state-of-the-art hour-long interviews with thousands of Americans face-to-face in their homes both before and again after the November, 2008, election. The questionnaires will ask hundreds of questions of respondents, measuring their opinions on a wide array of political issues, their assessments of the health of the nation, their hopes for government action in the future, their perceptions of the candidates and their platforms, their behavioral participation in the campaign and in politics more generally, and much more.

In addition, a nationally representative sample of American adults will be recruited during 2007 and will answer questions once a month for 21 consecutive months, continuing well after the presidential inauguration in 2009. This will allow scholars to study which citizens change their candidate preferences when and why during the primaries and general election campaigns and how citizens react to the election outcome after the nation’s new leader is elected and begins to govern.

A third component of the new project will be collaboration with another long-term national survey project, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, run by the Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research. As a result, questions measuring political opinions and behavior will be asked of a representative sample of thousands of young adults every two years, illuminating patterns of long-term change across elections.

The face-to-face interviews will employ innovative new measurement techniques for the first time in the ANES, including using laptop computers to display questions and answer choices confidentially to respondents and allowing them to answer secretly. In addition, for the first time, the computers will show respondents photographs of candidates, videos of campaign ads, and other visual stimuli to enhance measurement of information exposure.

In addition, the computers will measure the speed with which respondents make judgments using the latest techniques from social and cognitive psychology. This will entail the use of measurement tools that have been used extensively in laboratories around the world but have rarely been administered to representative national samples of survey respondents.

Response speed measurement is one way to elucidate unconscious, automatic processes that occur in the brain and guide political thinking and action. “Asking people to explain their behavior yields mostly blind guesses rather than genuine self-insight,” explained Lupia. “By combining self-reports that measure opinions and measurements of response speed, we can better understand the impact of sensitive attitudes, including prejudice and stereotyping.”

2006 will mark a substantial expansion of the number of academic disciplines that will influence and be served by the ANES. The Board of Overseers will double in size to include 20 world-renowned professors from political science, psychology, sociology, economics, and communication.

Substantial efforts will be mounted to encourage scholars from all of these disciplines and others as well to submit proposals about how the study should be designed and what questions should be asked of the survey respondents.

* * * * *
Related Links:

Krosnick Homepage: http://communication.stanford.edu/faculty/krosnick.html
Lupia Homepage: http://www.umich.edu/~lupia
NES Homepage: http://www.umich.edu/~nes/
Stanford IRiSS: http://www.stanford.edu/group/iriss/index.html
ISR: http://www.isr.umich.edu/

Project Summary:

Why did America vote as it did on Election Day? The mission of the American National Election Studies (ANES) is to inform explanations of election outcomes by providing data that support rich hypothesis testing, maximize methodological excellence, measure many variables, and promote comparisons across people, contexts, and time. The ANES serves this mission by providing researchers with a view of the political world through the eyes of ordinary citizens. Such data are critical, because these citizens’ actions determine election outcomes.

This proposal seeks to continue the ANES mission for the next four years, but in new and better ways than ever before. It builds on an ANES history that has made the project a valuable resource to generations of social scientists. As has been true for every past presidential election in the ANES time series, a presidential year pre- and post-election study will be conducted using face-to-face interviewing of a nationally representative sample of adults, with an unusually high response rate. This study will include questions specific to the election of 2008 and also questions that augment the ANES time series, which is now in its sixth decade. For the first time, moreover, scholars will be able to purchase interview minutes and additional cases on the time series study to enhance its breadth.

In many other respects, this proposal constitutes a substantial break from the past, outlining new kinds of data collection, new methods for choosing questionnaire items, a new management structure, new organizational procedures to promote the involvement of a broader set of scholars, and a fundamentally different kind of relationship between the ANES and its user community.

One new data collection effort will be a two-year panel study involving six core waves of data collection with the same respondents, plus 15 additional waves of data collection. The first core wave will be in late 2007, before the primaries; the next three core waves will be spread over the months running up to election day; and the final core waves will be in November and May after the election. Data will also be collected during every other month throughout the life of the panel, but with a focus on matters that are not explicitly political, to minimize selective panel attrition or conditioning driven by interest in politics while producing lots of valuable information on respondents. The panel will allow scholars to study citizen politics in new ways and will illuminate how election year politics affect judgments of the new administration in the formative months of its term.

A second new data collection enterprise involves a partnership with the Ohio State University Center for Human Resource Research. They conduct the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which has been interviewing a nationally representative panel of adults and their children for decades with breathtakingly long and varied questionnaires. Questions measuring political attitudes and behaviors will be included in these surveys for the first time, allowing the study of developmental and socialization experiences through the life-cycle and across generations.

To help scholars develop and validate new measurement tools for use in the above-listed surveys, an ANES pilot study will be run in November, 2006, reinterviewing respondents from the 2004 ANES.

The components of this data collection plan each strengthen the others. Alone, each component will allow a broad range of scholars to evaluate the robustness of old and new theoretical claims. In addition, each endeavor will be designed to facilitate coordinated analysis with all the other data collections.

The specifics of the designs of all these studies will be determined by an array of scholars more intellectually diverse than ever before. Its new PIs and Board of Overseers hail from more universities and a broader range of disciplines than any of its predecessors. This proposal describes a new Internet-based procedure for soliciting, processing, reviewing, and providing feedback on proposals for study design elements from anyone who wishes to offer them. All this will be done with an unprecedented transparency to the user community.

Because these activities will generate a huge amount of data, detailed plans have been designed outlining how the management of the study design, data collection, and data dissemination processes will be carried out by the experienced technical staff that is already in place. In addition to coordinating the questionnaire design and fieldwork processes, the staff will maintain and update the study’s huge and multifaceted website by adding the newly collected data and also dramatically enhancing the study’s electronic archives of previously-collected information dating back from the 1940s.

By generating large, multifaceted datasets of high quality, the ANES will equip researchers to learn new and important lessons about the world of politics. These data will be distributed widely and quickly to serve thousands of scholars and to be used in classrooms around the world to enrich research and education.

Americans want to understand how its democracy works. The ANES will help to inform the nation about itself, exploring the causes and consequences of voting behavior and electoral outcomes. With such knowledge, the polity will be better equipped to nurture and refine its system of government.

Posted by cthomsen at 01:28 PM