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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Although a core insight of historical institutionalism (HI) is that history affects actors’ beliefs, values and preferences, it is difficult to test these propositions directly. This chapter argues that one way of testing HI theories is to integrate some of the methods and techniques of experimental social science. Using experimental methods, historical institutionalism can better explain how specific institutional structures, decision-making processes, and historical contexts frame individual choices and shape the broader ecology of political decisions. A combination of diverse research traditions and methodologies can illuminate the dynamic relationships between ideas, interests and institutions that yield variation in policies and preferences across cultures and over time.

Keywords: experimental methods, historical institutionalism, welfare states, ideas, cognition

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