Professor Robert Johns

Department of Government
Professor Robert Johns
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872508

  • Location

    5.021, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Tuesday 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. Rob would be happy to supervise students whose research also falls in the broad field of public opinion.


  • BA Oxford

  • MA PhD Essex

Research and professional activities

Research interests

how and why people think what they think about politics.

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?

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)

Teaching and supervision

  • Professional Development Seminar (GV994)


Journals (26)

Davidson, S., Elstub, S., Johns, R. and Stark, A., (2017). Rating the debates: The 2010 UK party leaders? debates and political communication in the deliberative system. British Politics. 21 (2)

Johns, RA. and Davies, GAM., (2017). Civilian casualties and public support for military action: Experimental evidence. Journal of Conflict Resolution

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

Davies, GAM. and Johns, R., (2015). The domestic consequences of international over-cooperation: An experimental study of microfoundations. Conflict Management and Peace Science

Brandenburg, H. and Johns, R., (2014). The Declining Representativeness of the British Party System, and Why It Matters. Political Studies. 62 (4)

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

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

Davies, GAM. and Johns, R., (2013). Audience Costs among the British Public: The Impact of Escalation, Crisis Type, and Prime Ministerial Rhetoric. International Studies Quarterly

Johns, R., Mitchell, J. and Carman, CJ., (2013). Constitution or Competence? The SNP's Re-election in 2011. Political Studies. 61 (1_suppl)

Davies, GAM. and Johns, R., (2012). British Public Confidence in MI6 and Government Use of Intelligence: The Effect on Support for Preventive Military Action. Intelligence and National Security. 27 (5)

Johns, R. and Davies, GAM., (2012). Democratic Peace or Clash of Civilizations? Target States and Support for War in Britain and the United States. The Journal of Politics. 74 (04)

Johns, R., Bennie, L. and Mitchell, J., (2012). Gendered nationalism: The gender gap in support for the Scottish National Party. Party Politics. 18 (4)

Shephard, M. and Johns, R., (2011). 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)

Johns, R. and Shephard, M., (2011). Facing the Voters: The Potential Impact of Ballot Paper Photographs in British Elections. Political Studies Review. 59 (3)

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 (02)

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)

Johns, R., (2010). Credit where it's due? Valence politics, attributions of responsibility, and multi-level elections. Political Behavior. 33 (1)

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

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

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

Johns, R., (2009). Tracing Foreign Policy Decisions: A Study of Citizens' Use of Heuristics. British Journal of Politics and International Relations. 11 (4)

Johns, R., Mitchell, J., Denver, D. and Pattie, C., (2009). Valence Politics in Scotland: Towards an Explanation of the 2007 Election. Political Studies. 57 (1)

Shephard, M. and Johns, R., (2008). Candidate Image and Electoral Preference in Britain. British Politics. 3 (3)

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

Johns, R., Carman, C. and Mitchell, J., (2008). The´┐Żunfortunate´┐Żnatural experiment in ballot design: The Scottish Parliamentary Elections of 2007. Electoral Studies. 27 (3)

Adamson, K. and Johns, R., (2008). The Vlaams Blok, its electorate, and the ideological articulation of ?Europe?. Journal of Political Ideologies. 13 (2)

Books (5)

Johns, R. and Mitchell, J., (2016). Takeover: Explaining the Extraordinary Rise of the SNP. Biteback Publishing. 9781785900327

Carman, C., Johns, R. and Mitchell, J., (2014). More Scottish than British: The 2011 Scottish Parliament Election. Palgrave Macmillan. 978-1-137-02369-8

Denver, D., Carman, C. and Johns, R., (2012). Elections and Voters in Britain (3rd edition). Palgrave Macmillan. 9780230241619

Mitchell, J., Bennie, L. and Johns, R., (2011). The Scottish National Party: Transition to Power. Oxford University Press. 9780199580002

Johns, R., Denver, D., Mitchell, J. and Pattie, C., (2010). Voting for a Scottish Government: The Scottish Parliament Elections of 2007. Manchester University Press. 0719081084

Chapters (2)

Johns, R. and Padgett, S., (2010). How Do Political Parties Shape Public Opinion? Britain in a European Perspective.. In: British Social Attitudes: The 26th Report. Editors: Park, A., Curtice, J., Thomson, C., Phillips, M., Clery, E. and Butt, S., . Sage Publications Ltd. 39- 62. 9781849203876

Johns, R., (2009). Behaviouralism. In: The Oxford Handbook of British Politics. Editors: Flinders, M., Gamble, A., Hay, C. and Kenny, M., . Oxford University Press. 9780199230952

Grants and funding


More moderate equals more competent? How ideological position shapes valence judgements about a party

The British Academy


Recruited by Referendum: Party membership Energised

Economic & Social Research Council


Scottish Referendum Study 2014

Economic & Social Research Council


Scottish Election Study 2011

Economic & Social Research Council

How do Perceptions of Privilege Impact on Political Activity in the UK?



Foreign Policy Attitudes and Support for the War

Economic & Social Research Council

+44 (0) 1206 872508


5.021, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Tuesday 16:00-17:00, Thursday 12:00 - 13:00