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,” Conditionally Accepted, 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)

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.

“Punish or Treat: Do Legislators and Citizens Respond Differently to Crack versus Opioid Epidemics?” (with Brendan Nyhan, D.J. Flynn and Evan Morgan)

Project Goal: Some have observed that policy responses and public reactions to opioids have been very different from other drugs such as crack, and that the reaction has been so different because the opioid crisis has impacted white communities. We empirically examine these arguments. First we will first analyze the relationship between opioid overdoses and legislation in Congress – how responsive are legislators to the severity of the epidemic? We will leverage the match between congressional districts and media markets to examine the role of local media in policy responsiveness. Second, we will use randomized constituent emails to test how drug type and race predict legislators’ emphasis on treatment (vs. punishment). Finally, we will conduct an experiment testing how addict race and drug type affect support for treatment.

Project Sketch: (1) Observational analysis of the difference between crack and opioids in whether legislator sponsor/co-sponsor punishment-oriented bills or treatment-oriented ones. (2) Legislator field experiment randomizing putative constituent race and drug (crack versus opioid) looking at responses suggesting treatment versus punishment. (3) Public conjoint experiment varying putative addicted person’s race and drug (crack versus opioid) looking at support for treatment versus punishment.

Progress: Currently completed content analyses of illegal drug-related bills introduced between 1979 and 2015; Study 1 is scheduled to be presented in February 2019 at a conference on the politics and policy of the opioid crisis (the Watson Institute of International and Public Affair, Brown University)

“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.