Trust in Research, Trust in Relationships: How State Legislators Acquire and Use Research in Deliberation

How do state legislatures form trusting relationships and how do these relationships shape the use of research evidence?

Foundation-supported studies reveal that relationships matter when it comes to the use of research evidence, but questions remain as to how they matter and how they can be leveraged to establish credibility and promote the use of research evidence. This study examines how trusting relationships come about, as well as the processes whereby research is incorporated into decision making. The investigators hypothesize that trusting relationships among legislators are formed through deliberative processes, individual qualities, and the larger climate (e.g., party polarization). They will identify specific practices state legislators use to build trusting relationships and promote the use of research evidence in policy on youth and families. The investigators will conduct interviews with a broad range of stakeholders: all members of the Wisconsin state legislator and half of the Indiana legislative body. The study will also include 10-15 policymakers who are no longer in office, and 15-30 “exemplar” legislators, nominated by peers for their ability to build trusting working relationships, place youth and family issues on legislative agendas, and use research evidence in policy decisions.

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