Research

The unifying theme in my research is an interest in how context and dispositions (especially political values and identities) interact in shaping political attitudes and behavior. I have pursued this interest in the following fields.

Foreign policy attitudes

Most of my work in this field is about the effect of general postures on attitudes toward specific policies. My book on this topic, Öffentliche Meinung zu Auslandseinsätzen der Bundeswehr [German Public Opinion on Bundeswehr Deployments Abroad], was published in 2017 by Springer VS. It shows how information context and general postures toward war and transatlantic cooperation interact in shaping German public attitudes toward specific military missions. I am also a co-author of the book Old Friends in Troubled Water, published by Nomos in 2016. The book analyzes American and German citizens’ responses to changes in the international system in the post-Cold War era and reveals transatlantic disagreement over core foreign policy postures, particularly the use of military force. Whether such cultural differences seriously strains the transatlantic relations, however, is conditional on elite behavior.

My research on foreign policy attitudes has also appeared in a number of journals, including the Review of International Political Economy (here), Journal of Conflict Resolution (here), The European Journal of Political Research (here), and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research (here).

National identity

In an era of international economic exchange and mass migration, national boundaries
become both permeable and contested. Processes of international cooperation and migration cross and highlight national borders and have the potential to invoke national
identities as a force that drives citizens’ opinion formation toward a wide range of issues. These identities come in different forms, which have distinct effects on political attitudes and behavior. At the same time, they depend on individual characteristics and contextual features, such as the national discourses about national identity. I have pulished several papers on the German case. They analyze, e.g., the different forms of German national identity (here) and their effects on foreign policy attitudes (here).

To explore these issues in depth, Harald Schoen and I are preparing a grant proposal for a comparative research project. You can find more information about preliminary work and the project here.

Electoral choice

Electoral choice is the result of a complex interplay of party behavior and positions, political discourse about them, and voters’ (pre)dispositions. My work in this filed focuses on the relevance of political values (here), ideological attachments (here), immigration attitudes (work in progress),  and national identities (work in progress) for German citizens’ vote choice in different contexts.

Cross-cultural comparability of survey measures

Social scientists are increasingly concerned whether the measures of their concepts are cross-culturally equivalent, i.e. whether they measure the same phenomena in the same way in different cultural settings. A straightforward comparison of the phenomena of interest—and their causes and consequences—is only possible if such equivalent measures exist. In the case of survey research, respondents may react differently to a given stimulus because they have different cultural backgrounds and therefore interpret the stimulus differently. My interest focuses on statistical approaches to assess whether cross-cultural equivalence is given in the case of measurment instruments that are  intended to measure core concepts that I frequently work with. Can the responses to items intended to measure political values and identities be modelled in a cross-culturally equivalent way? This is a difficult and largely unanswered question.

Intra-party politics

Quantitative research on party politics often assumes that parties are unitary actors. While it may be unproblematic to use this assumption in some circumstances, it limits our understanding in others. It implies, for example, that parties occupy precisely defined positions in the policy space, when in reality they are unlikely to be completely united in their preferences. If we conceptualize parties as organizations that consist of multiple actors, we can think of policy “positions” as distributions that might vary between parties, within parties between issues, and across time. The extent of this intra-party preference heterogeneity is likely to influence phenomena such as party strategy and competition, coalition building, and voting behavior. Nils D. Steiner and I study this heterogeneity using survey data from polls of party elites. The first of what will hopefully become a series of papers has been published in Party Politics (here).