James Druckman

Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science | IPR Associate Director | Chair of IPR’s Program on Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy


James Druckman's research focuses on political preference formation and communication. His most recent work examines how citizens make political, economic, and social decisions in various different contexts (e.g., settings with multiple competing messages, online information, deliberation). He also has explored the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policy, and how political elites make decisions under varying institutional conditions.

Druckman has published more than 90 articles and book chapters in political science, communication, economic, science, and psychology journals. He co-authored the book Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation (University of Chicago Press) and co-edited the Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science. He has served as editor of the journals Political Psychology and Public Opinion Quarterly as well as the University of Chicago Press's series in American Politics. He currently is the co-Principal Investigator of Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS). He also sits on numerous advisory boards, organizing committees, prize committees, and editorial boards.

Druckman's work has been recognized with numerous awards including over 15 best paper/book awards; he also has received grant support from such entities as the National Science Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Phi Beta Kappa. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (pdf) in 2012 and also, in 2012, received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. In 2014, he received Northwestern’s Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence. His teaching/advising has been recognized with the Outstanding Award for Freshman Advising, an Outstanding Faculty citation by Northwestern's Associated Student Government, and the Karl Rosengren Faculty Mentoring Award.

Druckman obtained his BA from Northwestern, majoring in mathematical methods in the social sciences and political science. He is also an Honorary Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Current Research

Political Communication Effects. Druckman has various projects that explore how mass communication influences citizens' opinions. Much of this work focuses on “elite-issue framing.” Framing occurs when in the course of describing an issue or event, a speaker's emphasis on a subset of potentially relevant considerations causes individuals to focus on these considerations when constructing their opinions. For example, if a speaker describes a hate-group rally in terms of free speech, then the audience will subsequently base their opinions about the rally on free speech considerations and support the right to rally. In contrast, if the speaker uses a public safety frame, the audience will base their opinions on public safety considerations and oppose the rally. With various colleagues, Druckman is exploring how competition between frames influences opinions, how people's choice of information outlets affects framing effects, how variations in motivation influence framing effects, and how elite polarization affects the impact of communications. Most of this work is experimental.

Campaigns in a New Media Age: How Candidates Use the World Wide Web to Win Elections. Martin Kifer of High Point University, Michael Parkin of Oberlin College, and Druckman are studying the impact of the Internet on electoral politics. Specifically, they have developed a theoretical framework for studying politicians' campaigns on the Web that accounts for political strategic aspects of Web-based campaigns and novel technical elements. They use the framework to guide a content analysis of more than 1,500 candidates websites over five election cycles. They complement these data with information on candidate and district characteristics to study a number of dynamics including how candidates' campaign on the web, how web campaign strategies differ from other types of media campaigning, why candidates websites differ from one another, how campaign web sites have changed over time, and what effect web campaigns might have in the future. They also have explored the websites of members of Congress and studied the effects of websites on voters' opinions (using experiments). At present, data from three election studies are available. More data will be available in the near future.

When and How Political Parties Influence Public Opinion Formation

Thomas Leeper, Rune Slothuus, and Druckman are studying when and how parties affect public opinions. Indeed, one of the most important influences on citizens' opinions is the positions that political parties take on policy issues. Yet, we have limited knowledge of how citizens use parties to form opinions, and the conditions under which they use parties in different ways. We aim to advance this longstanding debate with a novel theoretical model that reconciles alternative conceptions of party influence and specifies under what conditions citizens will use parties in what ways. We test our model in survey experiments embedded in representative surveys in the US and Denmark. In related work, Matt Levendusky and Druckman are studying the impact of partisan media on public opinion.

Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Support for Energy Policy. Despite an abundance of rhetoric on energy policy from both political parties, critics maintain that the U.S. lacks a national energy strategy. Part of developing such a strategy lies in understanding public attitudes about different sources of energy, whether those opinions change as the public becomes more informed about energy alternatives, what types of energy policies the public is willing to support, and what the public is willing to do as far as making lifestyle choices to meet the long-term energy demands of our society. Along with IPR social policy professor Fay Lomax Cook and Toby Bolsen of Georgia State University, Druckman is working on a project to forward just this understanding by using public opinion survey data to examine Americans' changing knowledge and attitudes about traditional energy sources, alternative sources of energy, and lifestyle choices that affect energy production and consumption. Part of this project also involves surveys of policymakers and scientists.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Bolsen, T. and J. Druckman. 2015. Counteracting the Politicization of Science. Journal of Communication 65: 745-769.

Druckman, J. 2015. Communicating Policy-Relevant Science. American Political Science Association Task Force on Public Engagement. PS: Political Science & Politics 48(S1): 58-69.

Druckman, J., M. Gilli, S. Klar, and J. Robison. 2015. Measuring Drug and Alcohol Use Among College Student-Athletes. Social Science Quarterly 96: 369–80.

Druckman, J. 2015. Eliminating the Local Warming Effect. Nature Climate Change 5: 176–7.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F.L. Cook. 2015. Citizens’, Scientists’, and Legislators’ Beliefs about Global Climate Change. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658: 271–95.

Druckman, J. 2015. Merging Research and Undergraduate Teaching in Political Behavior Research. PS: Political Science & Politics 48: 53–57.

Druckman, J., M. Gilli, S. Klar, and J. Robison. 2014. The Role of Social Context in Shaping Student-Athlete Opinions.  PLoS ONE 9: e115159. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115159.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F.L. Cook. 2014. Communication and Collective Actions: A Survey Experiment on Motivating Energy Conservation in the U.S. Journal of Experimental Political Science 1: 24–38

Druckman, J.  2014. Pathologies of Studying Public Opinion, Political Communication, and Democratic Responsiveness. Political Communication 31: 467–92.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F.L. Cook. 2014. The influence of partisan motivated reasoning on public opinion. Political Behavior 36(2): 235–62.

Druckman, J., M. Gilli, S. Klar, and J. Robison. 2014. Athlete support for Title IX. The Sport Journal.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F. L.Cook. 2014. How frames can undermine support for scientific adaptations: Politicization and the status quo bias. Public Opinion Quarterly 78(1): 1–26.

Druckman, J., M. Kifer, and M. Parkin. 2014. U.S. congressional campaign communications in an Internet age. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties 24(1): 20–44.

Druckman, J., and D. P. Green. 2013. Mobilizing group membership:  The impact of personalization and social pressure e-mails. SAGE Open 3: 1–6. 

Chong, D. and J. Druckman. 2013. Counter-framing effectsThe Journal of Politics 75(1): 1–16.

Druckman, J., E. Peterson, and R. Slothuus. 2013. How elite partisan polarization affects public opinion formationAmerican Political Science Review.

Druckman, J., and T. Leeper. 2012. Is public opinion stable? Resolving the micro-macro disconnect in studies of publicDaedalus 141(4): 50–68.

Druckman, J., and T. Leeper. 2012. Learning more from political communication experiments: Pretreatment and its effectsAmerican Journal of Political Science 56(4): 875–96.

Druckman, J. 2012. The politics of motivationCritical ReviewA Journal of Politics and Society 24: 199–216.

Druckman, J., J. Fein, and T. Leeper. 2012. A source of bias in public opinion stabilityAmerican Political Science Review 106(2): 430–54.

Druckman, J., and  A. Lupia. 2012. Experimenting with politicsScience 335(6073): 1177–79.

Druckman, J., and  T. Bolsen. 2011. Framing, motivated reasoning, and opinions about emergent technologiesJournal of Communication 61(4): 659–88.

Chong, D. and J. Druckman. 2010. Dynamic public opinion: Communication effects over timeAmerican Political Science Review 104(4):663–80.


Druckman, James, and Lawrence R. Jacobs. Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation. University of Chicago Press (2015).

Druckman, James, with Donald P. Green, James H. Kuklinski, and Arthur Lupia, eds. Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science. New York: Cambridge University Press (2011).