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Scott Althaus

Profile picture for Scott Althaus

Contact Information

Cline Center for Advanced Social Research, 2001 South First Street, Suite 207, Champaign, IL 61820
Director, Cline Center for Advanced Social Research
Merriam Professor


Professor Althaus joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1996 with a joint appointment in the departments of Political Science and Communication. He is currently the Merriam Professor of Political Science, Professor of Communication, and Director of the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research at the University of Illinois.

Professor Althaus serves on the editorial boards of Critical Review, Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Political Communication,  and Public Opinion Quarterly. His research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political ScienceCommunication ResearchJournalism and Mass Communication QuarterlyJournal of Broadcasting & Electronic MediaJournal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly,  and Political Communication. His book on the political uses of opinion surveys in democratic societies, Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics: Opinion Surveys and the Will of the People  (Cambridge University Press, 2003) ,  was awarded a 2004 Goldsmith Book Prize by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and a 2004 David Easton Book Prize by the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association. 

He was named 2014-15 Faculty Fellow at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC, a 2004-5 Beckman Associate by the UIUC Center for Advanced Studies, and a 2003-4 Helen Corley Petit Scholar by the UIUC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was honored with a Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIUC, and his undergraduate and graduate courses regularly appear on the university's "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students."

Research Interests

popular support for war
data science methods for extreme-scale analysis of news coverage
political communication
political psychology
public opinion
the impact of strategic communication activities on news coverage and public opinion
the psychology of information processing
communication concepts in democratic theory
cross-national comparative research
civil unrest and other behavioral manifestations of public opinion

Research Description

Scott Althaus is Merriam Professor of Political Science, Professor of Communication, and Director of the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He also has faculty appointments with the School of Information Sciences and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. His work with the Cline Center applies text analytics methods and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to extract insights from millions of news stories in ways that produce new forms of knowledge that advance societal well-being around the world. His own research interests explore the communication processes that support political accountability in democratic societies and that empower political discontent in non-democratic societies. His interests focus on four areas of inquiry: (1) how journalists construct news coverage about public affairs, (2) how leaders attempt to shape news coverage for political advantage, (3) how citizens use news coverage for making sense of public affairs, and (4) how the opinions of citizens are communicated back to leaders. He has particular interests in popular support for war, data science methods for extreme-scale analysis of news coverage, cross-national comparative research on political communication, the psychology of information processing, and communication concepts in democratic theory. His current projects include using data mining methods to help journalists cover terrorist attacks in responsible ways and a book manuscript to be published by Cambridge University Press about the dynamics of popular support for war in the United States.

Awards and Honors

Merriam Professor of Political Science
Director, Cline Center for Democracy

Additional Campus Affiliations

Charles J. and Ethel S. Merriam Professor, Political Science
Professor, Political Science
Professor, Communication
Director, Cline Center for Democracy, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor, School of Information Sciences
Professor, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
Professor, European Union Center
Affiliate, Center for Social and Behavioral Science

Highlighted Publications

Althaus, S. L. (2003). Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics: Opinion Surveys and the Will of the People. Cambridge University Press.

Althaus, S. L. (2012). What’s good and bad in political communication research? Normative standards for evaluating media and citizen performance. In The SAGE Handbook of Political Communication (pp. 97-112). SAGE Publishing.

Nardulli, P. F., Althaus, S. L., & Hayes, M. (2015). A Progressive Supervised-learning Approach to Generating Rich Civil Strife Data. Sociological Methodology, 45(1), 148-183.

Althaus, S. L., Bramlett, B. H., & Gimpel, J. G. (2012). When War Hits Home: The Geography of Military Losses and Support for War in Time and Space. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56(3), 382-412.

Althaus, S., & Coe, K. (2011). Priming Patriots: Social Identity Processes and the Dynamics of Public Support for War. Public Opinion Quarterly, 75(1), 65-88.

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Recent Publications

Chan, C. H., Wessler, H., Jungblut, M., Welbers, K., Althaus, S., Bajjalieh, J., & van Atteveldt, W. (Accepted/In press). Challenging the Global Cultural Conflict Narrative: An Automated Content Analysis on How PerPetrator Identity Shapes Worldwide News Coverage of Islamist and Right-Wing Terror Attacks. International Journal of Press/Politics.

Althaus, S., Peyton, B., & Shalmon, D. (2022). A Total Error Approach for Validating Event Data. American Behavioral Scientist, 66(5), 603-624.

Welbers, K., Van Atteveldt, W., Bajjalieh, J., Shalmon, D., Joshi, P. V., Althaus, S., Chan, C. H., Wessler, H., & Jungblut, M. (2022). Linking event archives to news: a computational method for analyzing the gatekeeping process. Communication Methods and Measures, 16(1), 59-78.

Wessler, H., Althaus, S. L., Chan, C. H., Jungblut, M., Welbers, K., & Van Atteveldt, W. (2022). Multiperspectival Normative Assessment: The Case of Mediated Reactions to Terrorism. Communication Theory, 32(3), 363-386.

Wolfsfeld, G., Sheafer, T., & Althaus, S. (2022). Building Theory in Political Communication: The Politics-Media-Politics Approach. Oxford University Press.

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