Liberal and Conservative Values: What We Can Learn From Congressional Tweets

Kevin L. Jones, Sharareh Noorbaloochi, John T. Jost, Richard Bonneau, Jonathan Nagler, Joshua A. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past research using self-report questionnaires administered to ordinary citizens demonstrates that value priorities differ as a function of one's political ideology, but it is unclear whether this conclusion applies to political elites, who are presumably seeking to appeal to very broad constituencies. We used quantitative methods of textual analysis to investigate value-laden language in a collection of 577,555 messages sent from the public Twitter accounts of over 400 members of the U.S. Congress between 2012 and 2014. Consistent with theoretical expectations, we observed that Republican and conservative legislators stressed values of tradition, conformity, and national security (as well as self-direction), whereas Democratic and liberal legislators stressed values of benevolence, universalism, hedonism, and social/economic security (as well as achievement). Implications for the large-scale observational study of political psychology are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-443
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Congress
  • LIWC
  • Schwartz circumplex model
  • Twitter
  • conservatives
  • federal legislators
  • liberals
  • political elites
  • social media
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Liberal and Conservative Values: What We Can Learn From Congressional Tweets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this