Job Market Paper
Can factual information change partisan opinions? In three survey experiments and involving 7200 participants and two highly contentious issues and an observational study leveraging a sudden flow of new information, I find that people sensibly respond to the direction and quality of new information. The results suggest that people may engage in partisan motivated reasoning when they are induced to feel defensive about their partisan viewpoints, but not by default.
“Treatment Versus Punishment: Understanding Racial Inequalities in Drug Policy” 2020, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (with Evan Morgan and Brendan Nyhan)
We test popular conjectures about diﬀerences in the policy response to the current opioid epidemic and the crack scare of the 1980s–1990s using data on district-level drug-related deaths and legislation on illegal drugs in the House of Representatives. Though far more people have died of drug poisoning in recent years, we ﬁnd that policymakers were more likely to introduce illegal drug-related bills during the crack scare and that the majority of those bills were punitive. Consistent with our expectations, the eﬀect of district-level drug deaths on sponsorship of treatment-oriented legislation is greater for opioid deaths than for cocaine-related deaths and for white victims than for black victims. We further show that the opioid death-treatment relationship has strengthened in recent years and that district-level drug deaths are not signiﬁcantly related to sponsorship of punishment-oriented bills. These results suggest that the racial inequalities and double standards of drug policy still persist but in diﬀerent form.
Covered in The Weeds
“Identifying the Effect of Political Rumor Diffusion Using Variations in Survey Timing” 2019, Quarterly Journal of Political Science (with Eunji Kim)
Using a difference-in-difference strategy that compares over-time belief changes of those interviewed before and after a sudden diffusion of rumor about Obama’s religion in 2008, we find that this event increased people’s belief that Obama is a Muslim by 4 to 8 percentage points.
First Place Winner, the 2016 Annual Student Paper Competition, American Association for Public Opinion Research (PA/NJ Chapter)
“The Kavanaugh confirmation polarized women, and motivated them to vote — some for Republicans, some for Democrats” The Washington Post, Monkey Cage
Using a novel research design that randomizes the timing of survey invitation (before and after the Kavanaugh confirmation), I measure the effects of the confirmation on public opinion. I find that Kavanaugh’s confirmation did not increase the gap between women and men, but between Republican women and non-Republican women.
Featured in The Dartmouth (student newspaper at Dartmouth)
“Temporal Selective Exposure: How Partisans Choose When to Follow Politics” (with Eunji Kim) Revised and resubmitted to Political Behavior
We suggest an alternative conceptualization of selective exposure: partisans select when to pay attention to politics, instead of which ideological sources to follow, such that they modify their political attentiveness in response to whether the flow of information is congenial to their party. We find support for our hypothesis in two studies.
Top Paper Award, the Political Communication Division, the 2018 Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association.
“The Distorting Prism of Social Media: How Self-Selection and Exposure to Incivility Fuel Online Comment Toxicity” (with Brendan Nyhan, Andrew Guess, and Jason Reifler)
Though prior studies have analyzed the textual characteristics of online comments about politics, it remains unclear to what extent political discourse on social media is a distorted representation of the general public. Using both actual comments scraped from Facebook and comments elicited from a representative sample of Americans we show selection into commenting behavior and exposure to other people’s comments changes the tone and content of political discourse.
We argue that presidential voting typically results in eventual disappointment—either because the preferred candidate loses or because the elected president’s big promises are under-delivered. Applying a regression discontinuity design to the ANES time-series data (1974 to 2008), we find that being just eligible to vote in a presidential election undercuts political trust 2 or 4 years down the road by several percentage points.
First Place Winner, the Annual Student Paper Competition, American Association for Public Opinion Research (DC Chapter)
“Revisiting Political Knowledge: The Different Effects of Information and Consideration on Collective Opinions” (with Michael Delli Carpini)
We distinguish two dimensions of citizens’ political knowledge; information—the classic definition—and consideration of diverse perspectives, and argue even highly “informed” citizens in the traditional sense may fail to make “considered” decisions. A discriminant validity test establishes the lack of correspondence between information and consideration. We draw on imputation methods and a deliberation experiment with a representative sample to show that information and consideration may have different effects on collective opinions.
Top Student Paper Award and Travel Grant, the Political Communication Division, International Communication Association
Selected Projects in Progress
“How Citizens Respond to a Sexual Misconduct Allegation Made in a Partisan Context”
Project sketch: (1) A natural experiment randomly assigning people to respond a survey either just before or just after the Kavanaugh confirmation vote in 2018 to estimate the effects of his confirmation on partisan and gender gaps; (2) A survey experiment randomly assiging people to a news article about the sexual misconduct allegation against Joe Biden in 2020; (3) A survey experiment randomizing the partisanship of accused individuals and the credibility of allegation to confirm asymetric reactions between Democrats and Republicans.