Elicited Priors for Bayesian Model Specifications in Political Science Research

Authors


Jeff Gill (jgill@ucdavis.edu) is associate professor of political science, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
Lee D. Walker (lee.walker@uky.edu) is assistant professor of political science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506.

Abstract

We explain how to use elicited priors in Bayesian political science research. These are a form of prior information produced by previous knowledge from structured interviews with subjective area experts who have little or no concern for the statistical aspects of the project. The purpose is to introduce qualitative and area-specific information into an empirical model in a systematic and organized manner in order to produce parsimonious yet realistic implications. Currently, there is no work in political science that articulates elicited priors in a Bayesian specification. We demonstrate the value of the approach by applying elicited priors to a problem in judicial comparative politics using data and elicitations we collected in Nicaragua.

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