Job Market Paper

“Evidence Can Change Partisan Minds: Rethinking the Bounds of Motivated Reasoning”

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.

Peer-reviewed Publications

“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.

Online Appendix  Replication Files

First Place Winner, the 2016 Annual Student Paper Competition, American Association for Public Opinion Research (PA/NJ Chapter)

Treatment Versus Punishment: Understanding Racial Inequalities in Drug Policy

Forthcoming, 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.

Other Publications

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)

Working Papers

“Temporal Selective Exposure: How Partisans Choose When to Follow Politics” (with Eunji Kim)

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.

“First Time Presidential Voting and Political Trust: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design” (with Eunji Kim)

We argue that presidential voting typically results in eventual disappointment—either because 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 definitionand 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

“The Distorting Prism of Social Media: How Online Comments Affect Polarization and Incivility” (with Brendan Nyhan, Andrew Guess and Jason Reifler)

Project Goal: Do debates on online forums and social media create misperceptions about the extremity and incivility of partisan outgroups and increase polarization and negative affect toward them? In this project, we hypothesize that (1) extreme/uncivil individuals are more likely to self-select into online discussion and draw more attention; that (2) people encountering these individuals in social media fail to account for their unrepresentativeness, especially when they are out-partisans, and thus end up thinking even less of partisan outgroups in general. 

Project Sketch: (1) Estimation of the difference in incivility and extremity between comments posted on Facebook and what that the general public would comment on the same issues, using Facebook data and a population-based survey. (2) Survey experiments randomizing exposure to comments drawn from Facebook data or survey responses.

Progress: Scrapped 10,538 news articles and 7,154,212 comments posted on Facebook; Currently finalizing on preparation of a population-based survey where respondents will be asked to comment on a sample of articles drawn from the scraped Facebook data.

“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 to estimate the effects of his confirmation on partisan and gender gaps (2) A survey experiment randomizing the partisanship of accused individuals and the credibility of allegation to explore the conditions under which partisans come to an agreement.