Many questions in political science require knowing not only what voters want (pref-erence orientation) but also how much they want it (preference intensity). In this paper, we assess two methods for measuring individual differences in preference intensity. One method — issue importance items — asks respondents to self-report how important a given set of policy proposals is to them personally. Another — Quadratic Voting for Survey Research (QVSR) — gives respondents a fixed budget to ‘buy’ votes in favor of (against) these policy proposals, with the price for each vote increasing quadratically. We provide theoretical arguments explaining why, in a polarized environment where some respondents may feel pressured to pay lip service to the party norms, one should expect QVSR to offer a better measure of preference intensity. Using Likert items as the benchmark, we find that QVSR more consistently differentiates between intense and weak preferences, as proxied by respondents’ behavior on simplified real-world tasks. Revisiting debates on the determinants of policy preferences, or the congruence between mass opinions and the policy status quo, we show that conclusions reached when using Likert items alone change once differences in preference intensity are bet-ter accounted for.
Charlotte Cavaillé, Daniel L. Chen et Karine Van Der Straeten, « Who Cares? Measuring Preference Intensity in a Polarized Environment », TSE Working Paper, n° 22-1297, janvier 2022.
TSE Working Paper, n° 22-1297, janvier 2022