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The Endurance of Politicians’ Values Over Four Decades: A Panel Study



How much do the political values of politicians endure throughout their careers? And how might the endurance be explained? This paper uses a unique longitudinal data set to examine the persistence of political values among national politicians: members of the British House of Commons, who completed Rokeach-type value ranking instruments during 1971–73 and again 40 years later in 2012–16. The findings show remarkable stability and provide strong support for the persistence hypothesis which predicts that politicians develop crystallized value systems by their early thirties and largely maintain those values into retirement. This is consistent with the view that rapid changes in aggregate party ideologies have more to do with new views among new waves of recruits than with conversions among old members.


Corresponding author

*Donald D. Searing, Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
William G. Jacoby, Department of Political Science, Michigan State University,
Andrew H. Tyner, Department of Politics, Princeton University,


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This research was supported by the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive and Neuroscience and by the Artete, Templeton and Leverhulme Foundations. We thank the anonymous reviewers and the editors of the APSR for their helpful comments. A previous version of this article was presented at the 2016 Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse:



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Searing et al. dataset

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Searing et al. supplementary material
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