Barbara Vis’ substantive research agenda focuses on how political elites - like governments, members of parliament and local politicians - make judgments and decisions. Between 2023 and 2028, most of her research takes place in the context of her ERC Consolidator-funded project 'Politicians under Radical Uncertainty' (RADIUNCE), see  

In her methodological research agenda, Barbara Vis continues to contribute to Qualitative Comparative Anaysis (QCA).  In co-authored work, she for instance addresses the questions of how to track configurations over time using QCA and how to deal with the issue of "hidden limited diversity". With Carsten Schneider and Kendra Koivu, she has also written a report on transparency in QCA

Previous research took place in the context of her NWO-funded VIDI-project ‘HIGH-RISK POLITICS: Explaining and improving political actors’ decision-making on electorally risky issues’ (2012-2017). In this project, her team and she studied under which conditions different political actors (like governments) take for them electorally risky decisions on salient issues (like welfare state reform and military intervention). A core finding from this project is that, in line with predictions from prospect theory, losses are an important explanatory factor for such risky decisions. See for more information on the project. Taking a proverbial step back, she has subsequently conducted research on the phase preceding decision-making: judgment. Specifically, she has examined in a series of co-authored publications whether and under which conditions politicians use heuristics - cognitive rules of thumb - when making judgements. 

Her most recent books include No Normal Science: Festschrift for Kees van Kersbergen (2023, Politica, edited with Christoffer Green-Pedersen & Carsten Jensen); The Oxford Encyclopedia of Political Decision Making (2-volumes) (2021, Oxford UP, with David Redlawsk, Cengiz Erisen, Erin Hennes, Zoe Oxley & Darren Schreiber); De Verzorgingsstaat (The Welfare State), Amsterdam UP (2016, with Kees van Kersbergen) and Comparative Welfare State Politics: Development, Opportunities and Reform, Cambridge UPs (2014, with Kees van Kersbergen).

Barbara Vis' work has been published in journals such as American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, European Journal of Political Research, European Political Science Review, Journal of European Social Policy, Sociological Methods and Research, Political Communication, and Political Psychology.

Completed Projects
HIGH-RISK POLITICS: Explaining and improving political actors' decision making on electorally risky issues 01.11.2012 to 31.12.2017
General project description

This project's overall aim is to advance and test a theory of political decision-making under risk that holds on the individual level (politicians), the meso level (parties), and the macro level (governments). The theoretical starting point is prospect theory, which predicts that people take risk-averse decisions when facing gains while they are risk-seeking or acceptant when confronting losses. Objective 1 is to experimentally test to what extent (groups of) politicians display the same attitude towards risk as "normal" individuals do, that is, whether prospect theory's predictions hold. Objective 2 is to establish empirically why some political parties risk turning their constituency away by changing their policy platform, but others do not. Objective 3 is to assess empirically why some governments take decisions involving substantial electoral risks with regard to military intervention, while others do not. These research questions are answered through a series of quantitative, qualitative and experimental techniques.

Project Leader
NWO grant Vidi grant (grant nr. 452-11-005)
External project members
  • Dieuwertje Kuijpers
  • Jona Linde
  • Sjoerd Stolwijk
  • Mariken van der Velden