Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Michael Franz


Research focused on John Zaller's famous RAS model of political opinion formation and change from "The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion" (1992). Analyzed the mathematical and psychological underpinnings of the model, the first paper to do so in over fifteen years and the first to do so through an analysis of motivated reasoning and Bayesian reasoning. Synthesized existing critiques of Zaller's model and other literature to suggest ways to build on Zaller, utilizing fundamental reunderstandings of opinions and messages from political and mathematical perspectives. Found verification for Zaller's model, confirming its value, but also found support for the proposed RAIS model, which suggests foundational changes in the way citizens interact with information in the current political environment. Confirmed the utility of a Zallerian framework for analyzing shifts in mass opinion over time and suggested ways to improve the creation of surveys and polls for understanding elections and reported opinions on issues.