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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Nick Vivyan

Campbell, Rosie, Cowley, Phil, Vivyan, Nick & Wagner Markus (2019). Legislator dissent as a valence signal. British Journal of Political Science 49(1): 105-128.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Existing research suggests that voters tend to respond positively to legislator independence due to two types of mechanism. First, dissent has an indirect effect, increasing a legislator’s media coverage and personal recognition among constituents (profile effects). Secondly, constituents react positively to dissent when this signals that the legislator has matching political or representational preferences (conditional evaluation). This article presents a third effect: dissent acts as a valence signal of integrity and trustworthiness. Consistent with the valence signalling mechanism, it uses new observational and experimental evidence to show that British voters have a strong and largely unconditional preference for legislators who dissent. The findings pose a dilemma for political systems that rely on strong and cohesive parties.