A collection of charts on the political orientation of social scientists

I collected some charts from academic articles depicting political orientation in academia. This list could easily have been 10 times as long if I just kept adding everything without much quality control. Questionnaire studies at universities/online are some of the easiest studies to do.

It’s up to you to compare this data and try to find patterns in it. Most studies are from USA so we don’t know as much about Europe yet. But there are some huge data sources online that one coul make more charts from.

All the sources are cited so that you can very easily find them at Google Scholar, Sci-Hub or a PDF book site. Some of the older articles are only found on Sci-Hub for free. Email me if a link doesn’t work and I’ll fix it right away. Please do copy this article or any data in it.

USA — students and professors

Rothman, Stanley & Lichter, Robert & Nevitte, Neil. (2005). Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty. The Forum. 3. 10.2202/1540–8884.1067.

1999 North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS) of students, faculty, and administrators at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. In this American sample 1643 faculty members from 183 universities and colleges answered the telephone survey. “Faculty” is loosely or often directly interchangeable with “professors” in these articles.

USA — faculty and students

Eagan, M. K., Stolzenberg, E. B., Berdan Lozano, J., Aragon, M. C., Suchard, M. R. & Hurtado, S. (2014). Undergraduate teaching faculty: The 2013–2014 HERI Faculty Survey. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

HERI does huge surveys in USA. The fact that they do these surveys regularly also means that you can see how many more left-leaning people there are in academia today compared to in the past.

USA — social scientists

Lazarsfeld, P. F., & Thielens, W. (1959). The academic mind: Social scientists in a time of crisis.

This classic book that started this field uses a 1955 survey of 2.451 social scientists at 182 American colleges and universities. They included history and geography. You can loan it for free online.

Bigger and more prestigious colleges have more rich students and Democrats.

USA — professors

Gross, N., & Simmons, S. (2014). The social and political views of American college and university professors. Professors and their politics, 19, 19–25.

This book has lots of charts but I only look into chapter 1 as the other chapters have less interesting charts. In chapter 3 there are some charts comparing international professors to their country’s population. And those charts are all over the place making professors even look right-leaning on some issues in some countries.

Chapter 1 is must-read. Here they surveyed 1416 American professors with full- time appointments from 927 institutions via an online survey in 2006. Mostly bigger departments were asked.

Political Orientation

Gross, N., & Simmons, S. (2014)

Political Party Affiliation and Voting

Gross, N., & Simmons, S. (2014)

Besides a majority voting Democrat, Democrat professors also were much more open about their voting habits and were more politically active. Page 32:

Sixty- four percent of academic non- Bush voters said they talked to people about the candidates before the election and tried to convince them to vote one way or another, compared with 34 percent of Bush voters. Thirty percent of non- Bush voters said they attended po liti cal meetings, rallies, speeches, or dinners during the campaign, compared with 12 percent of Bush voters. Thirty- nine percent of non- Bush voters said they wore a campaign button or put a bumper sticker on their car or a sign in front of their house, compared with 12 percent of Bush voters. … Finally, non- Bush voters were more likely than Bush voters to report that they mentioned in class the candidate they would be voting for — 8 and 3 percent, respectively. However, 93 percent of all professors said they did not mention in class which candidate they would be voting for.

Other Measures of Political Identity

Gross, N., & Simmons, S. (2014)

USA — students of various levels

Pew Research Center, November, 2015, “Beyond Distrust: How Americans View Their Government”

This is the main study.

USA — professors

Eitzen, D., & Maranell, G. (1968). The Political Party Affiliation of College Professors. Social Forces, 47(2), 145–153. doi:10.2307/2575144

They used the World Almanac to find a list of colleges that were either from the North or South USA. Then picked random colleges and universities and picked 3 professors from each.

USA — faculty

Klein, Daniel & Stern, Charlotta. (2008). Liberal Versus Conservative Stinks. Society. 45. 488–495. 10.1007/s12115–008–9150–0.

These are some charts made from data from the Carnegie survey. A survey that was done regularly from 1969 to 1997. So one could compare year to year data here.

USA — faculty

Maranto, Robert & Redding, Richard & Hess, Frederick. (2009). The Politically Correct University.

A free book? How does that work? This data is also from external studies as you can see. From North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS) yet again. There are also many other charts in the book.

And here you see the Carnegie and NAASS survey data used to show a change over time in political orientation:

USA — social science professors

Klein, D. B., & Stern, C. (2005). Professors and their politics: The policy views of social scientists. Critical Review, 17(3–4), 257–303.

They surveyed 1678 professors in 2003. That’s a 30,9% response rate. They surveyed members of 6 nationwide scholarly associations: the American Anthropological Association, the American Economics Association, the American Historical Association, the American Political Science Association, the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy.

USA, 4 California universities — faculty

Honeycutt, Nathan & Freberg, Laura. (2017). The Liberal and Conservative Experience Across Academic Disciplines: An Extension of Inbar and Lammers. Social Psychological and Personality Science. 8. 115–123. 10.1177/1948550616667617.

This is how they gathered the data:

Invitations to participate were sent by individual email to a convenience sample of 2,339 faculty — a roster of all faculty — from the following CSU campuses: Humboldt, Monterey Bay, San Luis Obispo, and Stanislaus. The 618 faculty (355 males, 261 females, 2 no response) who participated represented a return rate of 26.4%. Participants represented 76 academic disciplines.

USA , 11 California universities— faculty

Cardiff, C. F., & Klein, D. B. (2005). Faculty partisan affiliations in all disciplines: a voter‐registration study. Critical Review, 17(3–4), 237–255.

This study is pretty impressive. Since then USA made voting registration records available online so these studies are 10 times easier to do today.

This study takes Klein and Western’s 2004 voter registration data on Berkeley and Stanford tenure-track professors (excluding emeriti faculty) and adds data from nine more schools. In selecting the nine additional schools, we sought to include not only major institutions, but also institutions and departments we thought were likely homes for Republicans, and that were geographically feasible for us to study.

This is how they found the data:

Lists of tenure-track faculty (excluding emeriti) were generated from online course catalogs. We collected voter-registration information for these faculty members by searching the records of county registrars of voters, fanning out to surrounding counties as necessary (given cost constraints).

Here are the universities:

The full list can be seen here:

USA — liberal arts college professors

Langbert, M. (2018). Homogenous: The political affiliations of elite liberal arts college faculty. Academic Questions, 31(2), 186–197.

Here Langbert looked up names of full-time professors. I suggest reading the 2 Langbert studies as they are very well-written and fascinating.

My sample of 8,688 tenure track, Ph.D.–holding professors from fifty-one of the sixty-six top ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News 2017 report consists of 5,197, or 59.8 percent, who are registered either Republican or Democrat. The mean Democratic-to-Republican ratio (D:R) across the sample is 10.4:1, but because of an anomaly in the definition of what constitutes a liberal arts college in the U.S. News survey, I include two military colleges, West Point and Annapolis.1 If these are excluded, the D:R ratio is a whopping 12.7:1.

There were also some issues with some professors not having a unique name on vote registration lists:

Not all professors register to vote. In 2016, Quain, Klein, and I find that 29.7 percent of our sample of professors at top-tier social science departments were unregistered, but that 15.7 percent of this group were so classified because the presence of other people with the same name on voter registration rolls made determining registration impossible. 10 In this study I find that a lower proportion — 23.4 percent — of the sample is unregistered.

Factors that correlate with a college being left-leaning: women, New England, higher US News Rank of college. Here is his blog post on the article.

USA — faculty in economics, history, journalism, law, and psychology

Langbert, M., Quain, A. J., & Klein, D. B. (2016). Faculty voter registration in economics, history, journalism, law, and psychology. Econ Journal Watch, 13(3), 422–451.

Online databases make doing these studies much easier today:

Prior to such developments, researchers (e.g., Cardiff and Klein 2005) had to make themselves presentable, climb into their cars, and travel from county seat to county seat to look up the information at county offices. The commercial database used by this study is Voter Lists Online’s “Aristotle” (link).

They looked into:

Our investigation focuses on the Democratic-to-Republican voter registration ratios among faculty in five fields (Economics, History, Journalism/Communications, Law, and Psychology) at 40 leading universities.

They looked up 7.243 professors and found 3.623 to be registered Democratic and 314 Republican. They included tenure-track professors: Assistant, Associate, Full, or Emeritus. They excluded: lecturers, adjuncts, and visiting faculty.

Whether a state’s voter registration information flows into databases like Aristotle is a function of that state’s policy regarding the matter, and, in fact, only 30 states allow it. Thus the hard voter registration information, and the present investigation, is limited to those states. The 40 universities we investigated were determined, in early 2016, by starting at the top of the U.S. News and World Report list “National Universities Rankings” (link). The ranking criterion involves a potpourri of variables, including academic peer review, undergraduate academic reputation, retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate, and the alumni giving rates.

A newspaper did a similar study and made some great charts with the data:
https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2019/05/duke-university-for-each-republican-professor-in-pratt-and-trinity-there-are-nearly-13-democrats

UK and EU — faculty

Karran, T., & Mallinson, L. (2017). Academic freedom in the UK: legal and normative protection in a comparative context [Report for the University and College Union].

The EU survey requested any member of the academic staff to participate, while the UCU survey was for UCU members. UCU is the British trade union in further and higher education, largest in the world. It consists of researchers, teaching staff, and academic related staff. Surveys were done via SurveyMonkey.

International — academic experts on intelligence

Rindermann, H., Becker, D., & Coyle, T. R. (2020). Survey of expert opinion on intelligence: Intelligence research, experts’ background, controversial issues, and the media. Intelligence, 78, 101406.

This is a very interesting article on IQ experts and their opinions on various issues. They are like the rest of academia, and especially social science: left-leaning. This study is one of the most interesting psychology studies I have read.

Mostly USA — psychologists

Inbar, Yoel & Lammers, Joris. (2012). Political Diversity in Social and Personality Psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 7. 10.2139/ssrn.2002636.

The whole Society for Personality and Social Psychology mailing list of 1.939 members was contacted.

Respondents were asked whether they considered themselves to be (1) Very liberal, (2) Liberal, (3) Somewhat liberal, (4) Moderate, (5) Somewhat conservative, (6) Conservative, or (7) Very conservative separately for “social issues,” “economic issues,” and “foreign policy.”

International — faculty and students in philosophy and philosophical psychology

Uwe Peters, Nathan Honeycutt, Andreas De Block & Lee Jussim (2020): Ideological diversity, hostility, and discrimination in philosophy, Philosophical Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2020.1743257

In 2018 794 academics in philosophy were asked about their political leanings and biases. They are international academics found via the PHILOS-L server mailing list.

1 person may select several areas he studies. So in Figure 4 it’s not single individuals but rather 1471 points created by 794 people.

This study also found a discrimination effect from both sides, but it was bigger from the left against the right.

Sweden — doctoral students and employees of various fields

Jordahl, Henrik & Berggren, Niclas & Stern, Charlotta. (2007). The Political Opinions of Swedish Social Scientists. Finnish Economic Papers. 22.

This Swedish study contradicts most of the other studies and actually finds a right-leaning bias among social scientists in Sweden.

The basis for this study is a web-based survey that was conducted in December 2005–January 2006. E-mail invitations were sent to 4,301 Swedish academics, which constitute “all” academics who are doctoral students and university employees doing research and/or teaching at 25 colleges and universities in the disciplines business administration, economic history, economics, gender studies, law, political science, and sociology.

Canada — university professors

Nakhaie, M. R., & Adam, B. D. (2008). Political affiliation of Canadian university professors. Canadian Journal of Sociology (Online), 33(4), 873.

How they got the data:

The data source is the survey of the Academic Profession in Canada: Political and Ethnic Culture of Canadian Universities. The survey was administered to a stratified random sample of full-time faculty members in 2000 when the Liberal Party dominated the political landscape and before the election of the Conservative minority government. The mailed questionnaire included questions on sociodemographics, socioeconomic background, voting behaviour, political orientation, and attitudes towards ethnic inequalities.

Here higher status universities had MORE conservative students. Which is interesting.

… the directional effect of the university status is contrary to that observed by Lipset (1975). A higher university status results in higher vote for the Liberal, Reform, and Conservative parties compared to vote for the NDP.

UK — academics

Carl, N. (2017). Lackademia: Why do academics lean left. The Adam Smith Institute.

Noah Carl found survey data and put it into a chart showing that UK academia is moving to the left. He also looked into if higher IQ or higher Openness (OCEAN) in left-leaning people may have caused the political orientation differences in academia. But neither thing explains all the difference observed. Another proposes hypothesis is that academics think that the left-wing will support them more economically as a more free market would hurt them. But this is not proven in the paper itself.

The Sociologist A.H. Halsey surveyed British academics in three different time periods, in each case asking about their party preferences.

And:

In April of 2015, the Times Higher Education (THE) ran an online poll open to anyone with a UK university email address, which asked respondents whom they intended to vote for in the upcoming election.

USA — students and faculty of various fields

Mariani, Mack & Hewitt, Gordon. (2008). Indoctrination U.? Faculty Ideology and Changes in Student Political Orientation. PS: Political Science & Politics. 41. 773–783. 10.1017/S1049096508081031.

A sample of 38 institutions with useable responses from 6.807 students and 2.883 faculty members. It’s not clear to me what US universities were included or from what areas of USA. The study found that students moved left during their 4 years at university but they still are on the level of the average population ideology of their age group.

USA, 6 universities — psychology PhD students

Tybur, Joshua & Miller, Geoffrey & Gangestad, Steven. (2007). Testing the Controversy. Human Nature. 18. 313–328. 10.1007/s12110–007–9024-y.

There is a common misconception that social scientists that subscribe to evolutionary psychology are more conservative than blank slate thinkers. This study doesn’t find support for the misconception.

Who they surveyed:

Therefore, we surveyed psychology Ph.D. students at six US universities that have adaptationist training programs. We circulated a recruitment email through electronic graduate student listservs at the six universities in late April and early May of 2005. The email asked participants to complete an online survey aimed at measuring graduate students’ attitudes toward political issues and scientific methods.

Results from the 168 US psychology Ph.D. students, 31 of whom self-identified as adaptationists, and 137 others who identified with another non-adaptationist meta-theory.

Of the 168 participants, 17 identified with the Green party, 103 identified with the Democratic party, 10 identified with the Libertarian party, 13 identified with the Republican party, and 25 reported being politically independent or identified with another party.

USA — anthropology students

Lyle, Henry & Smith, Eric. (2012). How Conservative Are Evolutionary Anthropologists?: A Survey of Political Attitudes. Human nature (Hawthorne, N.Y.). 23. 306–22. 10.1007/s12110–012–9150-z.

This is a follow-up study to the evolutionary psychology study that compared EPs to regular psychologists. This is from an even more left-leaning field.

Email addresses (n2,610) of anthropology students were collected from departmental websites across the United States, simply on the basis of public (internet) availability. From this sample we randomly selected 1,200 individuals to receive an email inviting survey participation. To ensure a sufficiently large sample of students with evolutionary orientation, we also sent the survey invitation to all graduate student members of the Evolutionary Anthropology Society (n145), a section of the American Anthropological Association. … After correcting for email bounces (n54), we had a response rate of 26.1% (n299).

My own charts

I made a few charts using some of the data. Here are some of them:

This one is excluding everyone who is not registered to vote for one of the 2 big parties. So the pie charts are somewhat misleading.

Psychology nerd writing about movie writing and psychology