Joseph T. Ripberger

University of Oklahoma
Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies

Center for Applied Social Research
3100 Monitor Avenue, Suite 100
Norman, OK

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Currently, my research focuses on the scientific, institutional, and social forces that influence public perceptions about, preparation for, and responses to natural and anthropogenic crises and disasters. I am also interested in mechanisms through which individual attention, beliefs, and emotions influence the political and policymaking process.

Ripberger, Joseph T., Hank C. Jenkins-Smith, and Kerry G. Herron. 2011. “How Cultural Orientations Create Shifting National Security Coalitions on Nuclear Weapons and Terrorist Threats in the American Public.” PS: Political Science & Politics 44:715-719.
Abstract: Scholars have used cultural theory (CT) to explain risk perceptions and opinion formation across an impressive array of public issues, ranging from environmental, regulatory, and energy policy to public health and economics. Although disparate, all these issues concern domestic policies. This article breaks with this trend by exploring the extent to which CT can help scholars better understand public beliefs about national security.
Ripberger, Joseph T., Geoboo Song, Matthew C. Nowlin, Michael D. Jones, and Hank C. Jenkins-Smith. 2012. “Reconsidering the Relationship between Cultural Theory, Political Ideology, and Political Knowledge.” Social Science Quarterly 93:713-731.
Abstract: Social scientists from a variety of disciplines have employed concepts drawn from cultural theory (CT) to explain preferences across an array of issues. Recent research has challenged key elements of CT in a number of ways, perhaps most importantly by arguing that cultural types are simply another formulation of political ideology, and that only politically knowledgeable respondents reliably utilize either cultural or ideological categories in formulating preferences. This study reconsiders and expands upon this contention.
Ripberger, Joseph T. 2011. "Capturing Curiosity: Using Internet Search Trends to Measure Public Attentiveness." Policy Studies Journal 39 (2): 239-259.
Abstract: While scholars have made great strides in formulating theories and measuring public attention, "most important problem" and media-based indicators are less than ideal measures. In order to address this shortcoming, this article borrows from health-care epidemiology to measure public attention based on Internet search trends. In doing so, it reviews the innovative ways in which scientists have used search activity to track the spread of infectious disease, discusses the ease and flexibility with which search data can be gathered, and then subjects a Google-based search measure to a series of validity tests. In particular, the analysis subjects the proposed measure to a battery of visual and statistical tests for convergent validity by comparing it with the most commonly used media-based measure of public attention?issue coverage in the New York Times. Across a range of policy issues (health care, global warming, and terrorism), the proposed measure demonstrates convergent validity. The article concludes by posing a series of important questions that the new measure will allow researchers to address.

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy SECONDARY
Defense and Security
Science and Technology Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation
Public Opinion SECONDARY