Benjamin Lauderdale, “Latent Versus Self-Reported Ideology”

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Spatial voting axes are seldom directly measurable. In general, political scientists employ latent variable models that aim to infer the presence and characteristics of axes from their impact on measurable quantities such as voting behavior. Ideology in the electorate is a rare case where researchers regularly attempt to measure a spatial quantity directly, typically by asking people to rank themselves on ordinal scales from liberal to conservative. These self-reported ideology scores have been widely used as a nationally comparable measure of ideological position, but whether different citizens are using consistent criteria for assessing and reporting their ideology is largely unknown. To better understand the relationship between issue positions and ideology in the electorate, I develop a item-response model for self-reported ideology as a function of issue positions. I find that political information is required for voters to self-report ideology consistently with their issue positions. Groups which are less attuned to the terminology of the national political discourse tend to self-report ideology in ways that are less informative about their issue positions on the primary political axis defined by that discourse.

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About Me

I am a Professor of Political Science at University College London. I have been Head of Department from October 2021.

Recently, my research has focused on developing new designs for highly multidimensional survey experiments that enable us to better measure key concepts relevant to public opinion and political behaviour. This has included projects introducing new methods for measuring the relative importance of different issues to voters; the extent to which there are robust patterns in which kinds of political arguments are persuasive; public preferences over the composition of government spending; public attitudes towards alternative ways that governments raise tax revenues; the extent to which political disagreement can be ascribed to moral disagreement; and the relative perceived severity, and priority for government action, of different politically salient problems. In addition, I am working on a textbook on social science measurement, a book on the structure of public opinion and voter behaviour, and a project examining public attitudes to democracy in the UK.

Earlier in my career, my research was focused on the development of new methods for the measurement of political preferences from large observational survey, voting, network and text datasets. This work included applications to citizens, legislators and judges across the US, UK, EU and beyond.

I worked as a Senior Data Science Advisor to YouGov from 2016-2021 and was an Associate Editor of the American Political Science Review from 2016-2020. Before joining UCL, I worked at the London School of Economics as a Lecturer, Associate Professor, and Professor from 2011 to 2018.

Curriculum Vitae pdf



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