Academic Staff

Professor Rob Johns

Position in departmentDeputy Head of Department; Director of Recruitment
Staff positionProfessor
Telephone01206 872508
Office hoursTuesday 16:00-17:00, Thursday 12:00 - 13:00

Rob Johns is Professor in Politics. He arrived at Essex in October 2010 having previously worked in the Department of Government at the University of Strathclyde. His teaching and research are in the fields of political psychology (especially the nature and origins of public opinion), electoral behaviour and questionnaire design. Rob is a Principal Investigator on the 2016 Scottish Election Study and has worked on a number of other major survey projects.


BA Oxford, MA PhD Essex

Current research
  • Recruited by referendum: Understanding the party membership surge in Scotland (ESRC award ES/N105090/1) (with Lynn Bennie and James Mitchell, Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh)
  • More moderate equals more competent: Ideological position and valence judgements (BA/Leverhulme award SG163176) (with Ann-Kristin Koelln, Aarhus University)
  • Scottish Election Study, 2016 (ESRC award ES/N018060/1) (with Ailsa Henderson, James Mitchell and Chris Carman (Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow)
  • Social media and the dynamics of public opinion (with Heinz Brandenburg and Marcel van Egmond, Universities of Strathclyde and Marcel van Egmond, Universities of Strathclyde and Amsterdam)

Research interests

Rob's research is about how and why people think what they think about politics. Within this broad focus, he has addressed a diverse range of questions in a range of contexts: Do people care about civilian as well as military casualties in war? Do voters feel represented by parties, even if those parties have no chance of power? Why are women less likely to favour Scottish independence? Are more moderate parties regarded as more competent? Rob would be happy to supervise students whose research also falls in the broad field of public opinion.

Teaching responsibilities

GV207: Political Analysis: Introduction to OLS

GV261: American Political System

GV832: Collaborative Project

GV994: Professional Development Seminar


Selected publications:

Johns, R. and Davies, G. (forthcoming), "Civilian casualties and public support for military action: Experimental evidence", Journal of Conflict Resolution, in press.

Davidson, S., Elstub, S., Johns, R. and Stark, A. (forthcoming), "Rating the debates: The 2010 leaders' debates and political communication in the deliberative system", British Politics, in press, doi: 10.1057/s41293-016-0021-9.

Johns, R. (2017), "Experiments", in Arzheimer, K., Evans, J. and Lewis-Beck, M. (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Electoral Behaviour,  Vol. 2. London: Sage, pp. 907-33.

Davies, G. and Johns, R. (2016), "The domestic consequences of international over-cooperation: An experimental study of micro-foundations", Conflict Management & Peace Science, 33(4), 343-60.

Johns, R. and Mitchell, J. (2016), Takeover: Explaining the Extraordinary Rise of the SNP, London: Biteback.

Davies, G. and Johns, R. (2016), "R2P from below: Does the British public view humanitarian interventions as ethical and effective?" International Politics, 53(1), 118-38.

Johns, R. and Davies, G. (2014), "Coalitions of the willing? International backing and British public support for military action", Journal of Peace Research, 51(6), 679-95.

Carman, C., Johns, R. and Mitchell, J. (2014), More Scottish than British: The Scottish Parliament Election of 2011, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Brandenburg, H. and Johns, R. (2014), "The declining representativeness of the British party system, and why it matters", Political Studies, 62(4), 704-25.

Johns, R. and Brandenburg, H. (2014), “Giving voters what they want? Party orientation perceptions and preferences in the British electorate”, Party Politics, 20(1), 89-104.

Davies, G. and Johns, R. (2013), “Audience costs in the British public: The impact of escalation, crisis type and Prime Minister’s rhetoric”, International Studies Quarterly, 57(4), 725-37.

Johns, R., Mitchell, J. and Carman, C. (2013), "Constitution or competence? The SNP's re-election in 2011", Political Studies, 61(S1), 158-78.

Davies, G. and Johns, R. (2012), "British public confidence in MI6 and government use of intelligence: The effect on support for preventive military action", Intelligence & National Security, 27(5), 669-88.

Johns, R. and Davies, G. (2012), "Democratic peace or clash of civilisations? Target states and support for war in Britain and the USA", Journal of Politics, 74(4), 1038-52.

Johns, R., Bennie, L. and Mitchell, J. (2012), “Gendered nationalism? The gender gap in support for the Scottish National Party”, Party Politics, 18(4), 581-601.

Denver, D., Carman, C. and Johns, R. (2012), Elections and Voters in Britain (3rd edn.), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Shephard, M. and Johns, R. (2012), “A face for radio? How viewers and listeners reacted differently to the third leaders' debate in 2010”, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14(1), 1-18.

Mitchell, J., Bennie, L. and Johns, R. (2011), The Scottish National Party: Transition to Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johns, R. and Shephard, M. (2011), “Facing the voters: The potential impact of printing candidate photographs on ballot papers”, Political Studies, 59(3), 636-58. Johns, R., Winters, K. and Campbell, R. (2011), “'My heart says one thing but my head says another'? Men, women and the psychology of partisanship in Britain”, Politics & Gender, 7(2), 193-222.

Pattie, C., Denver, D., Johns, R. and Mitchell, J. (2011), “Raising the tone? The impact of 'positive' and 'negative' campaigning on voting in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election”, Electoral Studies, 30(2), 333-43.

Johns, R. (2011), “Credit where it's due? Valence politics, attributions of responsibility, and multi-level elections”, Political Behavior, 33(1), 53-77.

Johns, R., Denver, D., Mitchell, J. and Pattie, C. (2010), Voting for a Scottish Government: The Scottish Parliament Elections of 2007. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Carman, C. and Johns, R. (2010), “Linking coalition attitudes and split-ticket voting: The Scottish Parliament elections of 2007”, Electoral Studies, 29(3), 381-91.

Johns, R. (2010), "Measuring issue salience in British elections: Competing interpretations of 'most important issue'", Political Research Quarterly, 63(1), 143-58.

Padgett, S. and Johns, R. (2010), “How do political parties shape public opinion? Britain in a European perspective”, in Park, A., Curtice, J., Thomson, K., Phillips, M., Clery, E. and Butt, S. (eds.), British Social Attitudes: The 26th Report, London: Sage.

Johns, R. (2009), “Tracing foreign policy decisions: Citizens’ use of heuristics”, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 11(4), 574-92.

Johns, R., Denver, D., Mitchell, J. and Pattie, C. (2009), "Valence politics in Scotland: Towards an explanation of the 2007 election", Political Studies, 57(1), 207-33.

Denver, D., Johns, R. and Carman, C. (2009), “Rejected ballot papers in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election: The voters” perspective”, British Politics, 4(1), 3-21.

Johns, R. (2009), "Behaviouralism", in Gamble, A., Hay, C., Flinders, M., and Kenny, M. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johns, R. and Carman, C. (2008), "Coping with coalitions? Scottish voters under a proportional system", Representation, 44(4), 301-15.

Carman, C., Mitchell, J. and Johns, R. (2008), "The unfortunate natural experiment in ballot design: The Scottish Parliamentary Elections of 2007", Electoral Studies, 27(3), 442-59.

Shephard, M. and Johns, R. (2008), "Candidate image and electoral preference in Britain", British Politics, 3(3), 324-49.

Adamson, K., and Johns, R. (2008), "The Vlaams Blok and the ideological rearticulation of 'Europe'", Journal of Political Ideologies, 13(2), 133-56.

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