Behaviour, Institutions and Policy Research Network (QMUL-SPIR)

Welcome to the mini-site of the BIP research network. Here you will find information about out upcoming seminars

Calendar 2023/2024

Seminars will take place at 4.00-5.30pm

Date & Time




04/10/2023 Javier Sajuria et al.

Non-response Bias in Candidate


The study of parliamentary candidates has been in the rise in the recent years. The Comparative Candidates Survey (CCS) has been applied in more than 20 countries, but they are still the object of criticism. Some of these relate to their alleged low response rates, assuming the presence of bias and, thus, lack of validity. We assess this issue by focusing on the 2010 and 2015 British candidate surveys. We observe that there are clear predictors of non-response that coincide in both years, such as ethnicity, electoral success, and political parties. However, we find that those differential response rates do not always have a substantive effect on a series of attitudinal and behavioural responses. We argue that candidate surveys can produce valid estimates as long as we identify and correct for potential biases.

📁 Online (Teams Link)
18/10/2023 Rainbow Murray A Feminist Institutionalist Approach to Parliamentary Representation 📁 Laws:308a
01/11/2023 Cora Lacatus Expert knowledge and the global governance of migrant health – the case of the IOM 📁


(Teams link)

15/11/2023 Sofia Collignon

Ballot Box Battles: Sex, Ethnicity, and the electoral performance of UK candidates

The UK Parliament has become increasingly diverse from an ethnic and gender perspective in recent years. However, how do ethnic minority and female MPs fare in the polls? Do women and ethnic minority candidates (still) get fewer votes than their counterparts? Are there compound effects for intersectional minority candidates? This paper makes three contributions to the growing literature on the electoral fortunes of minority candidates. First, it focuses on candidate sex, ethnicity and the combination thereof. Second, it focuses on the vote shares of the opponents as minority candidates may not get fewer votes, but their opponents may receive more (see e.g. Stegmaier et al. (2013)). Third, building on findings of a decreasing gender gap in vote shares, we ask how the impact of sex and ethnicity on candidate vote shares changes over time. We answer these questions with candidate-level data covering the 2010 to 2019 elections. We find that women do as well as men, and that the vote shares of ethnic minority candidates are only lower for ethnic minority men (not women). Whilst candidates receive more votes as the number of ethnic minority challengers increases, this effect is cancelled out when the incumbent themself has ethnic minority status. Finally, any observed differences seem to be disappearing with time.



(Teams Link)

29/11/2023 Ksenia Northmore-Ball et al.

Between ignoring and remembering: Political Polarization and National Identity in light of the communist past in Poland

In this study we test competing but complementary theories relating to political polarization and partisan identity on how the recent authoritarian past informs political party support in the context of wider questions about national identity, specifically relating to  transitional justice and collective victimhood in Poland. We use a survey experiments in in Poland to test the empirical presence of a bias against the ideological side related to the communist regime. Compared to earlier studies on the same and related topics Dinas and Northmore-Ball 2020 and Dinas et al 2022, the new contribution from this study includes: (1) randomly assign authoritarian memory through a corresponding prime; (2) distinguish between external pressure and internalized values; and we examine how the stigma is mediated through ideological partisan and national group identities.

📁 Laws:308d
24/01/2024 Stijn van Kessel

Why and how do members participate?

In the previous chapter we have identified and explained the reasons behind populist radical right parties’ (PRRPs) adoption of the mass party model. By talking to party representatives, we elicited accounts of organisational practice and modes of activism. This allowed us to identify what really mattered to party representatives, as far as maintaining complex (and cumbersome) party structures reliant on the activism of members was concerned. We found that the communities that the ‘mass party’ is able to shape are considered to serve the functional and electoral goals of PRRPs and safeguarding their organisations’ longevity, while giving members the opportunity to bond with like-minded individuals. Rootedness on the ground and a widespread organisation were seen by representatives to be a source of legitimacy for their parties, by strengthening their claims to be ‘the voice of the people’.

In this chapter we turn our attention to party members, and in particular those members who are actively involved in their organisation. In our study, it is these ‘activists’, who spend considerable time and effort in trying to make their organisation function, whose perspectives we are interested in, given our overarching aim to clarify what PRRPs can offer today, in terms of engagement and participation.

📁 Laws:308d
07/02/2024 Phil Cowley How representative is the House of Commons – and why is it so difficult to measure 📁 Laws:308d
21/02/2024 Emilia Simison

Abrand-new world? Regime Transitions and Policy Change

Despite regime transitions raising expectations of policy change, transitions often fail to lead to these changes and the empirical evidence linking regime type and policy is not conclusive. I argue that the heterogeneous effect of changes in regime type on policy depends on 1) how the space for contestation changes with a given regime type change; and 2) the level of visibility of the policy. I present a framework that explains how the combination of these two factors determines which mechanisms linking regime type and policy affect the evolution of policy following a regime transition and, thus, if and how policy change will take place. I test the potential of this framework with an in-depth comparative historical analysis of the evolution of housing and financial policy across regime types in Argentina and Brazil since the 1960s based on extensive archival resources, public records, historical media, and interviews with key actors.

13/03/2024 Richard Johnson

Partisan Sectarianism in the Divided States of America

The divide between Democrats and Republicans appears to be greater than at any point in post-war US history. Split ticket voting has declined; there are more ‘landslide’ counties than ever before; politicians are harshly punished for showing willingness to work with the other party. This growing chasm is usually explained through the lens of polarisation: the idea that voters and elected officials have adopted increasingly extreme policy positions which inhibit compromise. This paper argues that ‘sectarianism’ can provide a useful framework for understanding these political divisions. Although sectarianism is predominantly used to describe religious differences, this paper holds that the partisan divide within the US takes on similar characteristics. Extreme social aversion, ‘othering’, and moralising can all be used to describe Americans’ attitudes to supporters of the opposing party. The United States has largely been exempted from studies of political sectarianism. This paper proposes to revise this omission.

📁 Laws:308d (Teams link)
20/03/2024 Yara Sleiman

Polarising punchlines: The influence of inter-group humour on partisan affective polarisation

Modern political discourse increasingly transcends traditional platforms, engaging audiences through social media, television, and online forums. This shift has inspired a surge in humour as a primary means of political expression, making it a central element of modern political participation. Nonetheless, the effect of humour on citizens’ political attitudes remains largely unexplored. In this study, we field a survey experiment with 2,011 respondents from Great Britain to test the influence of disparaging humour on affective polarisation among partisans. Using a 2x3 factorial design, we manipulate both the tone (humorous vs. non- humorous) and the target (in-group, out-group, no target) of political content. We find that messages targeting in-partisans exacerbate affective polarisation; however, when these messages are delivered humorously, the e↵ect is reversed resulting in a significant decrease in polarisation. The depolarising effect of humour is attributed to changes in content perception and the discounting of contentious messages.

📁 ArtsOne 2.18 (Teams link)
27/03/2024 Elizabeth Simon Bucking the Trend? Millennials, Gen Z and The Effect of Aging on Conservatism 📁 Laws:308d
10/04/2024 Colm Murphy

No such thing as a free lunch? Economic constraint, fiscal consolidation and UK social democracy since 1945

The debate over the politics of economic consolidation and ‘prudence’ in the UK has, in practice, been defined by ‘austerity’ policies since 2010: spending cuts, welfare retrenchment and public sector underinvestment. However, adopting a longer-term historical perspective indicates that conflating all economic consolidations with cuts to public expenditure is misleading and constrains imaginative thinking about macroeconomic policy.

This paper introduces historical case studies of the British left’s attempt to navigate the politics of fiscal constraint since 1945 to advance three broad arguments. Firstly, strategies of economic consolidation, including but not limited to fiscal consolidation, have been endorsed by an assortment of social democrats, left-Keynesians, and socialists at various junctures of post-war history. There is nothing inherently Conservative or neoliberal about such policies. Secondly, political appeals to ‘prudential’ macroeconomics reflect both an assessment of economic constraints, alongside a persistently powerful ‘moral economy’ that attempts to rein in personal consumption to boost production and revive public services.

Finally, and most importantly, strategies that recognise those constraints and draw on that moral economy have been used by political actors to introduce policies favourable to traditional social democratic ends. While the emphasis on fiscal sustainability and monetary stability is, no doubt, a constraint on governing autonomy in capitalist economies, it is also a potential resource to construct viable electoral and political coalitions while acquiring governing space to enact distinctive progressive policies.

📁 Laws:308d
24/04/2024 Dan Gover TBC Laws:308d