Scott Althaus

 Scott Althaus

Contact Information

Cline Center for Advanced Social Research, 2001 South First Street, Suite 207, Champaign, IL 61820
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Additional Campus Affiliations


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

Professor Althaus’s research and teaching 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 to leaders through collective preferences, such as the results of opinion polls, and through collective behaviors, such as civil unrest. 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.

Distinctions / Awards

  • Merriam Professor of Political Science
  • Director, Cline Center for Democracy

Selected Publications


Photo of publication
Althaus, Scott Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics: Opinion Surveys and the Will of the People New York Cambridge University Press 2003.

Journal Articles

Althaus, Scott, Nathaniel Swigger, Svitlana Chernykh, David Hendry, Sergio Wals, and Christopher Tiwald Uplifting Manhood to Wonderful Heights? News Coverage of the Human Costs of War from World War I to Gulf War Two Political Communication 31 2 2014, p. 193-217. External Link.
Althaus, Scott, Brittany Bramlett, and James Gimpel When War Hits Home: The Geography of Military Losses and Support for War in Time and Space Journal of Conflict Resolution 2012.
Tewksbury, David, Scott Althaus, and Matthew Hibbing Estimating Self‐Reported News Exposure Across and Within Typical Days: Should Surveys Use More Refined Measures? Communication Methods and Measures 5 4 2011, p. 311‐28.
Althaus, Scott, Nathaniel Swigger, Svitlana Chernykh, David Hendry, Sergio Wals, and Christopher Tiwald Assumed Transmission in Political Science: A Call for Bringing Description Back In Journal of Politics 73 4 2011, p. 1065‐1080.
Althaus, Scott, and Kevin Coe Priming Patriots: Social Identity Processes and the Dynamics of Public Support for War Public Opinion Quarterly 75 1 2011, p. 65‐88.
Althaus, Scott The Forgotten Role of the Global Newsreel Industry in the Long Transition from Text to Television International Journal of Press/Politics 15 2 2010, p. 193‐218.
Althaus, Scott, Anne Cizmar, and James Gimpel Media Supply, Audience Demand, and the Geography of News Consumption in the United States Political Communication 26 3 2009, p. 249‐77.
Cortell, Andrew, Robert Eisinger, and Scott Althaus Why Embed? Explaining the Bush Administration’s Decision to Embed Reporters in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq American Behavioral Scientist 52 5 2009, p. 657‐77.

Book Contributions

Althaus, Scott What’s Good and Bad in Political Communication Research: Normative Standards for Evaluating Media and Citizen Performance Sage Handbook of Political Communication edited by Holli Semetko, compiled by Margaret Scammell. What’s Good and Bad in Political Communication Research: Normative Standards for Evaluating Media and Citizen Performance Edited by Holli Semetko, Compiled by Margaret Scammell, London Sage Publications 2012, p. 97-112.
Althaus, Scott, and David Tewksbury Do We Still Need Media Use Measures At All? Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies edited by John Aldrich, compiled by Kathleen McGraw. Do We Still Need Media Use Measures At All? Edited by John Aldrich, Compiled by Kathleen McGraw, New York Princeton University Press 2011.