Tormos, R., Vauclair, M., Dobewall. H., Fairbrother, M. and Akaliyski, P. "The Evolution of Morality"

This study examined the development of moral attitudes over time from a comparative perspective. Delving into the moral universalism and relativism debate, we show that the evolution of moral attitudes depends on the moral issues investigated. Using items from the Morally Debatable Behaviors Scale (MDBS) fielded in the World Value Survey and the European Value Survey (WVS-EVS integrated dataset 1981-2014), we found that the two cross-cultural dimensions of moral issues found by Vauclair & Fischer (2011), attitudes towards (1) dishonest–illegal and (2) personal–sexual issues, do evolve differently over time following a predictable pattern across countries. Drawing upon evolutionary and value theories, we expected that the former moral domain, not related to cultural values, would experience smaller variations over time, whereas the latter, influenced by cultural conceptions of the self, would undergo clear foreseeable changes. We used dynamic comparative multilevel modelling with socioeconomic contextual independent variables (both time invariant and time varying) and the two moral domains as assessed through the MDBS as dependent variables to test our hypotheses. After controlling for individual-level differences in moral attitudes, our findings confirmed that attitudes towards dishonest–illegal issues were more stable over time irrespective of the country; whereas attitudes towards personal–sexual issues underwent deeper transformations and the cross-country variation was higher. In particular, nations that enjoyed more economic prosperity during the period of observation experienced increasing levels of tolerance and openness in the personal and sexual issues domain.


Rodon, T., and Tormos, R. "The Burden of a Violent Past. Formative Experiences of Repression and Support for Secession in Catalonia"

This research studies the impact of past episodes of violence and repression on current territorial preferences. It delves on the effect of such past experiences on more recent willingness to change the status quo in the form of support for Catalan secession from Spain. More concretely, we study whether the formative experiences of individuals who lived first-hand or were close to those turbulent past episodes are more or less likely to support secession. We make use of a unique dataset that combines a large N of individual-level data from Catalan public opinion surveys with historical data about repression and violence during and after the Spanish Civil War in each Catalan municipality. Applying random effects models where individuals are nested in their respective municipality, we show that current preferences for secession tend to diminish among the oldest Catalan generation that was exposed to increasing levels of violence in their town. People exposed to those traumatic events during their youth are today less inclined to support the drastic change in the status quo that Catalan secession implies, other things held constant. These findings question some of the existing knowledge on the effects of past political violence on present political attitudes.

Tormos, R., and Rodon, T. "Situations Can Make You a Secessionist. An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis of Support for Secession in Catalonia, 1991-2019"

Support for secession in Catalonia has increased substantially in recent years. This research is devoted to understanding the sources of this evolution. What role has age, period and cohort factors played in it? Making use of an original dataset of repeated cross-sectional surveys that span over 29 years (1991-2019), we apply logistic cross-classified random effects models (both frequentist and Bayesian) to quantify the contribution of each component. Although there is a cohort pattern (and age effects), the key element for understanding the dynamics of Catalan secessionist demands is related to period effects. The political context drives the current evolution of Catalan secessionism. People from all cohorts have changed their mind considerably about their preferred constitutional arrangement in recent years. We also explore the changing role of ethnic origin and national identification in the dynamics of secessionist attitudes. Finally, we examine the consequences of future demographic trends in Catalan ethnic divides.

Tormos, R., and Verge, T. "Challenging the Gender Gap in Political Interest: A By-Product of Survey Specification Error"

Embedding randomized experiments in two representative surveys of the Catalan population, we show that the instrument commonly used in political behavior studies to measure citizens’ interest in politics is far from gender-neutral. By implicitly associating the political to male-dominated issues and domains, it artificially amplifies the gender gap, particularly by depressing women’s interest. The first experiment captures respondents’ interest through both the abstract question about general political interest and a battery of political issues, randomizing question order. In the second experiment an in-text help expands the general interest question by prompting respondents to think about politics in wider terms. Randomizing the presentation of male-oriented issues, female-oriented issues or a combination of both the recency principle can also be tested. By broadening the conceptualization of the political, the priming applied in our experiments effectively closes the gender gap, thereby casting doubt on the validity of the traditional survey instrument.

Tormos, R., Fonseca, P., and Garcia-Alamino, J. M. "In-Person School Reopening and the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 During the Second Wave in Spain"

We investigate the effects of school reopening on the evolution of COVID-19 infections in Spain studying both regional and age-group variation. Spain’s 17 Autonomous Communities reopened schools at different moments in time during September 2020. We find that in-person school reopening correlates with a burst in infections in almost all those regions. Data from Spanish regions gives a further leverage: in some cases, pre-secondary and secondary education started at different dates. The analysis of those cases does not allow to conclude whether reopening one educational stage had an overall stronger impact than the other. To provide a plausible mechanism connecting school reopening with the burst in contagion, we study the Catalan case in more detail, scrutinizing the time-series patterns of infections among age-groups and the possible connections between them. The stark and sudden increase in contagion among older children (10-19) just after in-person school reopening appears to drag the evolution of other age-groups according to Granger causality. This might be taken as an indirect indication of household transmission from offspring to parents with important societal implications for the aggregate dynamics of infections.

Verge, T, and Tormos, R. "Shaping Support for Public Policies: Legitimacy Cues and Question Wording Effects in the Case of Gender Quotas"

Public policies require citizens’ support not only for their approval but also for their successful implementation. Gender quotas are an exemplary case of a divisive policy whose enactment does not automatically dissolve opposition. This article examines how support for gender quotas can be shaped through legitimacy cues and question wording. The empirical analysis builds on two experiments embedded in a representative survey fielded in Spain, where gender quotas in politics and private businesses were introduced a decade ago. Our results show that priming the legal framework yields positive effects on support for electoral quotas, whilst the endorsement of gender balance in corporate boards increases when the wording of the question does not mention the word quotas.

Anduiza, E., and Tormos, R. "Survey Data and Methods in Political Participation Research"

This chapter presents current debates on survey instruments for the analysis of political participation. It reviews the challenges and trade off researchers have to face, and locates significant theoretical and methodological contributions in the field in terms of their use of survey methods. The chapter is organized in two main sections dealing with measurement issues and research designs respectively, and closes with some reflections on the challenges of future research.

Muñoz, J., and Tormos, R. "Social Choice and the Self-Determination Debate: Evaluating Alternative Methods for Preference Aggregation in Catalonia"

Rudnev, M., and Tormos, R. "Personality Traits and Human Values"

Sortheix, F., and Tormos, R. "Personal Economic Grievances and their Implications for Values"