A critique of dyadic design

Skyler J. Cranmer, Bruce A. Desmarais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Dyadic research designs concern data that comprise interactions among actors. They are, without a doubt, the most frequent designs employed in the empirical analysis of international politics. But what do such designs carry with them in terms of theoretical claims and statistical problems? These two issues closely intertwine. When testing hypotheses empirically, the statistical model must be a careful operationalization of the theory under consideration. Given that the theoretical and statistical cannot be separated, we discuss dyadic research designs from these two perspectives. We highlight problems of model misspecification, erroneous assumptions about the independence of events, artificial levels of analysis, and the incoherent treatment of multilateral/ multiparty events on the theoretical side. On the statistical side, we stress difficult-to-escape challenges to valid inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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