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Keywords:

  • cluster analysis;
  • decision making;
  • family law;
  • family policy;
  • field research;
  • social context

Evidence-informed policy creates the conditions for families to perform the functions they provide for their members and society. To increase research utilization in policymaking, we must better understand policymakers and the professional and institutional cultures in which they operate. This exploratory cluster analysis examined within-group differences in valuing, seeking, and use of social science research among 68 legislative staffers and 56 high-ranking officials from 8 family-serving executive agencies in Wisconsin. The findings are compared with a parallel study of 109 legislators from New York and Wisconsin. Among all 3 policy actors, a substantial proportion highly value research, actively seek it, and frequently use it in policy decisions; these Enthusiastic High Users of research are more attuned to political considerations compared to other clusters. Enthusiastic High Users in the legislative institution place a higher priority on innovative and action-oriented research, whereas those in the agency institution prioritize the quality of research.