Politics, broadly understood, is about how people with different opinions and preferences interact to produce outcomes that govern us all. The Program in Behavior and Institutions at Texas A&M brings into focus both facets of this fundamental dynamic.
We study why different people profess the opinions they do, and why they behave the way they do, and how and why our collective opinions change over time. What people want from government, and how they express those preferences, are core phenomena of inquiry in our discipline.
But preferences are not the beginning-and-end in the study of politics. How individuals try to achieve their particular goals is conditioned by the institutional environment in which they interact with one another. Therefore, we study how institutions interact with preferences to produce outcomes. For example, how different members of a political party decide on a nominee is structured by electoral rules and institutions. Or, to take another example, how the members of a legislature pursue their own goals is shaped, in large part, by the institutions that allocate power and dictate procedure in that legislature.
Our program will primarily involve sponsoring research presentations on these issues. Many of these presentations will be from members of our own community here at Texas A&M–faculty and graduate students–but we will also bring in speakers from other universities whose research will be of interest to a broad range of scholars in our department.