Legislator dissent as a valence signal

Rosie Campbell, Philip Cowley, Nick Vivyan, Wagner Markus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-128
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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