Best-Worst scaling (BWS) is a method that can provide insights into the preference structures of voters. By asking voters to select the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ option (‘most important’ and ‘least important’ media in our investigation) from a short list of alternatives it is possible to uncover the relative importance of each of the options. Using a Balanced Incomplete Block research design we reduce the number of comparisons to the number of media, thus reducing fatigue and complexity problems associated with the standard paired-preference scale from which BWS is developed. Scale variables can be calculated to conduct statistical procedures such as multiple regression and MANOVA. We demonstrate the utility of the method for analysing events in the political sphere using data collected from 282 voters immediately after the British General Election of 2010 on voter preferences regarding the relative amount of information provided by seven alternative media. Results indicate that voters in our sample gained the most information about the election campaign through the broadcast and print media and the leadership debate, whilst Party-controlled media such as party websites and election posters provided the least information. We furthermore investigate group differences using an ANOVA procedure to demonstrate how contextual variables can enrich our empirical investigations using the BWS method.
Best-worst scaling, research method, 2010 British General Election, voter preferences, media