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About the Lab

Ongoing Research


Past Research

About the Lab

The Northwestern Political Science Research Lab (PSRL) is located in Scott Hall 319. The lab includes 15 networked laptop stations with internet access, MediaLab, and Z-Tree software. (The laptops also can be used for studies off-site.) Use of the lab is available to political science faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students for conducting research and is available to other Northwestern affiliates upon request to Prof. Jamie Druckman.

PSRL also supports the Undergraduate Political Science Research Participation Requirement, which serves to provide a participant pool for those conducting research in the lab. The Research Pool Coordinator for the 2017-2018 academic year is Matthew Nelsen. More information about the requirement can be found here.

Researchers who want to use the lab and/or participant pool should first consult the lab policies document. DOC

PSRL participates in the Consortium for Laboratory Experiments in Political Science.

A platform for executing experiments with nationally-representative samples is Time Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS). Jamie Druckman currently serves as Co-PI for TESS. More information about TESS can be found here.

Ongoing PSRL Research

Adam Howat (Ph.D. Student) Graduate Research
Jacob Rothschild (Ph.D. Student) Graduate Research
Richard Shafranek (Ph.D. Student) Graduate Research
Ethan Busby (Ph.D. Candidate) Graduate Research
Tabitha Bonilla (Research Assistant Professor, Northwestern)
Mary McGrath (Assistant Professor, Northwestern)
Laurel Harbridge Yong (Associate Professor, Northwestern)

Sample Publications from PSRL Research

Robison, Joshua. “The Social Rewards of Engagement: Appealing to Social Motivations to Stimulate Political Interest at High and Low Levels of External Efficacy, ” Political Studies, 65:24-41, 2017. PDF

Mullinix, Kevin J. “Partisanship and Preference Formation: Competing Motivations, Elite Polarization, and Issue Importance, ” Political Behavior, 38:383-411, 2016. PDF

Robison, Joshua, and Kevin J. Mullinix. “Elite Polarization and Public Opinion: How it is Communicated and its Effects, ” Political Communication, 33:261-282, 2016. PDF

Druckman, James N., Mauro Gilli, Samara Klar, and Joshua Robison. “Measuring Drug and Alcohol Use Among College Student-Athletes,” Social Science Quarterly, 96:369-380, 2015. PDF, ONLINE APPENDIX

Bolsen, Toby and James N. Druckman. “Counteracting the Politicization of Science, ” Journal of Communication, 65:745-769, 2015. PDF

Mullinix, Kevin J., Thomas J. Leeper, James N. Druckman, and Jeremy Freese “The Generalizability of Survey Experiments, ” Journal of Experimental Political Science, , 2015. PDF

Bolsen, Toby, James N. Druckman, and Fay Lomax Cook. “The Influence of Partisan Motivated Reasoning on Public Opinion,” Political Behavior, 36:235-262, 2014.PDF

Klar, Samara. “Partisanship in a Social Setting,” American Journal of Political Science, 58:687-794, 2014. PDF

Leeper, Thomas J.“The Informational Basis for Mass Polarization,” Public Opinion Quarterly 78:27-46, 2014. PDF

Druckman, James N. “Stunted Policy Support,” Nature Climate Change, 3: 617, 2013. PDF

Druckman, James N., Erik Peterson, and Rune Slothuus. “How Elite Partisan Polarization Affects Public Opinion Formation,” American Political Science Review, 107: 57-79, 2013. PDF

Klar, Samara. “The Influence of Competing Identity Primes on Political Preferences,” Journal of Politics, 75:1108-1124, 2013. PDF

Druckman, James N. and Arthur Lupia. “Experimenting with Politics,” Science 335: 1177-1179, 2012. PDF

Druckman, James N., Jordan Fein, and Thomas J. Leeper. “A Source of Bias in Public Opinion Stability,” American Political Science Review, 106: 430-454, 2012. PDF

Druckman, James N. and Thomas J. Leeper.“Is Public Opinion Stable?: Resolving the Micro-Macro Disconnect in Studies of Public Opinion,”Daedalus 141:50-68, 2012. PDF

Druckman, James N. and Thomas J. Leeper.“Learning More from Political Communication Experiments: Pretreatment and Its Effects,”American Journal of Political Science, 56: 875-896, 2012. PDF

Harrison, Brian F.“Bully Partisan or Partisan Bully?: Partisanship, Elite Polarization, and U.S. Presidential Communication,”Dissertation Chapter 3, 2012.PDF

Druckman, James N. and Toby Bolsen.“How Scientific Evidence Links Attitudes to Behaviors,”in David Dana, ed., The Nanotechnology Challenge: Creating Law and Legal Institutions for Uncertain Risks. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2012. PDF

Bolsen, Toby. 2011. “A Light Bulb Goes On: Invoking Norms in Appeals for Collective Action.”Political Behavior. PDF

Druckman, James N., and Toby Bolsen. 2011. “Framing, Motivated Reasoning, and Opinions about Emergent Technologies,” Journal of Communication 61: 659-688. PDF

Chong, Dennis, and James N. Druckman. 2011. “Identifying Frames in Political News.” In Erik P. Bucy and R. Lance Holbert, eds., Sourcebook for Political Communication Research: Methods, Measures, and Analytical Techniques. Routledge. PDF

Chong, Dennis, and James N. Druckman. 2010. “Dynamic Public Opinion: Communication Effects Over Time,” American Political Science Review 104: 663-680. PDF

Druckman, James N., Cari Lynn Hennessy, Kristi St. Charles, and Jonathan Weber. 2010. “Competing Rhetoric Over Time: Frames Versus Cues,” The Journal of Politics, 72: 136-148. PDF

Druckman, James N. 2010. “Competing Frames in a Political Campaign,” in Brian F. Schaffner and Patrick J. Sellers, eds., Winning with Words: The Origins and Impact of Framing, 101-120. New York: Routledge. PDF

Druckman, James N., Cari Lynn Hennessy, Martin J. Kifer, and Michael Parkin. 2010. “Issue Engagement on Congressional Candidate Websites (2002-2006),” Social Science Computer Review 28: 3-23. PDF

Druckman, James N., Martin Kifer, and Michael Parkin. 2010. “Timeless Strategy Meets New Medium: Going Negative on Congressional Campaign Websites, 2002-2006,” Political Communication, 27: 88-103. PDF

Druckman, James N., Martin Kifer, and Michael Parkin. 2009. “Campaign Communications in U.S. Congressional Elections,” American Political Science Review 103: 343-366. PDF

Druckman, James N., Matthew S. Levendusky, and Audrey McLain. “No Need to Watch: How the Effects of Partisan Media Can Spread via Inter-Personal Discussions, ” n.d. PDF, ONLINE APPENDIX

Examples of Past Research

Tabitha Bonilla. “Bridging the Partisan Divide on Immigration Policy Attitudes through a Bipartisan Issue Area: The Case of Human Trafficking.” Institute for Policy Research (2017).

To date, while there is a rich literature describing the determinants of anti-immigrant sentiment, researchers have not identified a mechanism to reduce antipathy towards immigrants. In fact, extant research has shown that efforts to induce positive attitudes toward immigrants often backfire. What if we utilized a bridging frame strategy? Can a bipartisan issue area in which there is general support act as a bridging frame to elicit more positive sentiment toward immigration among those who oppose more open immigration policies? We explore this question by conducting a survey experiment in which we manipulate whether immigration is linked with the bipartisan issue area of human trafficking in a nationally representative sample of the U.S. adult population. Using prior experiments, we find that in forcing individuals to reconcile the fact that a widely accepted issue position of combatting trafficking also requires a reassessment in immigration policies, we can positively shift attitudes on immigration. The laboratory survey helped us assess what mechanisms are at play. Do opinions shift because of motivated reasoning?

Tabitha Bonilla. “The Effect of Campaign Promises.” Institute for Policy Research (2017).

Existing empirical work tells us that campaign promises are important for voter evaluations, both prospectively and retrospectively. Studies on campaign promises tell us that candidates make increasing numbers of promises to constituents, but the American public does not necessarily believe that candidates will follow through on their promises. What incentive do candidates have to continue to make campaign promises? I offer a conceptual distinction between promises and non-promise position statements: promises require that a candidate attach an explicit statement of action to a position statement. I argue that this distinction alters perceived commitment that the candidate makes to her position, and subsequently affects voter evaluations of candidates by changing expectations of candidate follow through and character. To test this theory, I conducted an experiment in the lab that indicates that voters who agree with the candidate's stance prefer that the candidate promise, but voters who disagree with the candidate's issue-position prefer a candidate who does not promise. Voters tend to view candidates who promise as more likely to act on their position than candidates who do not. This comes at a cost to assessments of a candidate's character which results in an asymmetry between the gains and losses made from promising, and ultimately allows candidates to strategically employ promises.

Ethan Busby. “It's not who you know, it's how you meet: A lab study.” Ph.D. Political Science Research (2017).

This study explored the way that different types of social experiences influence students' policy positions, tolerance for protests, and interest in protest movements. Students came to the lab and were randomized to have one of three conversations with a lab administrator. This administrator was from a different racial group than the student. The conversations used the same script, but involved different types of nonverbal cues (such as pauses, eye contact, vocal tone, etc.). The project is one part of my dissertation, and helps establish how the difficulty of a social experience can exacerbate or lessen group-based differences.

Matthew Gates. Undergraduate Honors Thesis (2017).

For his senior thesis, Matthew used the lab to expose participants to either a control or one of three arguments in favor of gay rights and to collect demographic data and information on a respondent's level of support for various gay rights policies. These arguments were written by experts in various areas and included the idea that sexual orientation is innate, the argument that gay rights are compatible with a small government worldview and the idea that there are enough gay people that everyone likely knows someone who is gay/lesbian. Matthew analyzed how these arguments lead to change in support for gay rights. Matthew broke this down into different policies including marriage, adoption, hate crimes, employment laws and the "gay wedding cake" issue and into different demographic groups based on gender, religion, political orientation and to an extent race and socioeconomic status.

Brian Hamel. Ph.D. Political Science Research (2017).

Scholars of voting behavior have long considered whether voters in primary elections choose candidates on the basis of ideology or general election electability. To further examine this, I conducted a conjoint experiment that varied both of these attributes for a pair of hypothetical candidates. My results suggest that moving from "likely to lose" to "likely to win" dramatically increases the likelihood of voting for that candidate, and that the magnitude of this effect far exceeds the effect of increasing the level of candidate-respondent issue agreement.

Laurel Harbridge Yong. Political Science Faculty Research (2017).

In our research into gridlock in legislatures around the country, one of the notable findings is that legislators who perceive that voters punish politicians who compromise are less willing to support legislative compromises. In the survey students participated in, we explored a follow up question: Are there ways that legislators can explain support for compromise that would minimize punishment of politicians who support these proposals? This type of communication/explanation may be particularly important for individuals who disagree with the specific compromise or who generally believe that politicians should stick to their positions. We examined whether support for the politician who supported the compromise differed depending on whether the compromise was described as a gain or as a loss, as well as whether the politician justified it with reference to something being better than nothing or an explanation of how bad the result would be without the compromise passing.

Adam Howat. Ph.D. Political Science Research (2017).

My subject pool study investigated the effects of shared group identity (partisanship, gender, or race) and shared values on support for political candidates, as well as how well candidates with those characteristics are perceived to represent different groups. Subjects were presented with mock web pages for candidates that (1) shared their identity or not and (2) expressed a value message considered congruent or incongruent with that identity (or no value message). In this way, the study examines the effects of group identity alone, as well as its interaction with different values, in determining the outcomes of interest.

Mary McGrath. Political Science Faculty Research (2017).

I ran a few rounds of the same survey experiment, looking at whether a treatment that tells people they are better at analyzing information than others who look like them causes people's opinion reports to move in the direction of information I provide.

Richard Shafranek. Ph.D. Political Science Research (2017).

Recent research on affective polarization has demonstrated that political conflict may sometimes spill over into unrelated areas of our lives. Studies document instances in which partisan considerations influence judgments and behaviors in such ostensibly-apolitical domains as the workplace, the academy, and romantic settings, among others. However, the majority of this work focuses solely on documenting these phenomena, giving little consideration to their potential downstream effects. When politics spills over into apolitical settings – that is, when political considerations influence nonpolitical judgments or behaviors – what are the consequences for those involved? This study attempts to assess some of the potential ramifications of political “spillover.”

D.J. Flynn. “The Scope and Correlates of Political Misperceptions.” Ph.D. Political Science Research (2016).

Misinformation is an increasingly salient concern among elected o fficials, scholars, and other observers of American politics. A growing literature in political science, psychology, and communications investigates where misinformation originates, how it spreads, and e ffective strategies for correcting it. Yet, the bulk of existing research overlooks a more fundamental question: exactly who gets it wrong? Put diff erently, which types of citizens tend to hold misperceptions? This paper reports the results of an original survey into the scope and correlates of political misperceptions in the mass public. I find, paradoxically, that by far the strongest predictor of misperceptions is an individual’s level of political interest. General political knowledge reduces misperceptions, but its effects are considerably weaker than the impact of interest. I discuss implications for public opinion and representation.

Ethan Busby, Adam Howat, Jacob Rothschild, Richard Shafranek. “What are They Like? Stereotypes of Party Supporters.” Ph.D. Political Science Research (2016).

Although some research references partisan stereotypes, little is known about precisely what they contain—what stereotypes do individuals have about people who support the Democratic and Republican Parties? We use a novel survey designed to measure these stereotypes, asking subjects to list the stereotypes that come to mind for partisans in a number of different areas. This is part of a larger project that involves a parallel study on MTurk and national-level data. The project advances our understanding of stereotypes, partisanship, and measurement.

Brian Harrison. (2016).

While lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans have seen recent legal victories and declining explicit discrimination, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals (TGNC) remain astoundingly vulnerable to discrimination, detachment from family structures and social institutions, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, and violence. One recent poll finds that almost 25% of Americans don’t know what the term “transgender” means and other polls find that only 8% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. In short, little is known about how the public forms their views of transgender people and rights. This project investigates how individual-level gender identity and salience affects support for transgender rights. Using original data from a survey experiment, respondents were primed to make their own gender identity more/less salient. Respondents for whom gender is important to their core identity were more likely to oppose transgender rights when gender identity was primed; the primes were less effective among those with lower gender importance. In sum, when there is a perceived threat toward traditional gender identity, respondents for whom that identity is important were less supportive of transgender rights.

Ethan Busby. "Exploring the Social Side of Populism." Ph.D. Political Science Research (2016).

In many political contexts (including the U.S., Western Europe, and Latin America) populism is an important political force. A number of populist movements and parties have had powerful influences on the politics of many countries; however, researchers are only beginning to answer causal questions about populism through experiments. This study digs into this area by examining the way individuals primed to think of populism interact with other people. Using games from behavioral economics and cooperative tasks, these experiments explore how the different kinds of political problems and populism of others influences interpersonal cooperation.

D.J. Flynn. "Misinformation and Candidate Evaluation." Ph.D. Political Science Research (2015).

Many citizens hold misperceptions about relevant facts. In recent years, a growing literature has considered best practices for correcting misperceptions. Yet, existing research has overlooked what is perhaps the most common context in which citizens encounter misinformation: during the course of an over-time policy debate or election campaign. I address this gap with a multi-wave study in which citizens encounter misinformation about a political candidate and corrections in various sequences. Results inform ongoing debates about effective ways to mitigate misinformation in contemporary politics.

Jordan Gans-Morse. "The Correlates of Public Service" Political Science Faculty Research (2015).

Throughout the post-Soviet region, state capacity is a significant problem, and efforts to improve capacity via civil service reforms have rarely met with success. One key challenge has been the development of qualified personnel. However, very little is known about who chooses to work as a public servant, and whether those seeking public employment exhibit unique demographic characteristics, skill sets, or personality traits. This project seeks to offer a novel perspective on the issue of state capacity by investigating the viewpoints of future government officials – more specifically, the viewpoints of university students enrolled in public administration programs in the post-Soviet region. The current stage of the research entails the development and piloting of a survey instrument aimed at collecting data on students' motivations for seeking public employment, career objectives, views on public service, and related topics. In May 2015 the survey instrument was administered to NU students via the Political Science Research Laboratory. In addition to providing an opportunity to test and refine the survey instrument, the data collected on NU students will be used as a benchmark against which to compare the results of the survey I will conduct in Russia in September 2015.

Georgia Kernell. "Heterogeneity, Candidate Identity, and Party Perceptions." Political Science Faculty Research (2015).

Previous theoretical research argues that a party's position and level of ambiguity should interactively affect vote choice. Observational work supports this claim, but cannot untangle the causal pathways between these three variables. This study holds location constant and varies a party's ambiguity by showing respondents a set of signals about two parties' positions and asking them to rate overall proximity. The second part of this project examines how the gender balance in a party's delegation affects perceptions of competence, proximity, and leadership.

Heather Madonia. "Private Politics and Public Opinion." Ph.D. Political Science Research (2015).

The purpose of this study is to better understand how the public feels about business influence in politics. Respondents are randomly assigned to one of 8 conditions. Each condition includes descriptions of 2 issues (education and energy). Factors varied include whether the business is in favor of the issues (pro/on) size of business (big vs. small), and whether or not the business is engaged in private politics. In particular, I focus on how private politics influences citizens' acceptance of business influence in political outcomes.

Yoshikuni Ono. "Social Desirability Bias on Survey Responding." Political Science, Tohoku University (2015).

Little attention has been paid to cross-cultural differences in the influence of social desirability bias on survey responding. The aim of this research project is to measure the degree to which cultural differences influence how people distort their answers to survey questions in a socially desirable manner. By using data collected from a survey experiment, this study examined how (1) the presence of social context information and (2) the use of forced-choice items affect the answers of people from different cultures to survey questions. In this study, we recruited students at Northwestern University as participants, and we compared their data with previously collected data in Japan to examine cross-cultural differences.

Laura Rozier. "The Media, the Innocent, and the Public: A Nuanced Look at Exonerations and Public Opinion of Capital Punishment." Undergraduate Honors Thesis (2015).

My research sought to explain the rapid decline in public support for the death penalty that began in the mid-1990s and has continued, largely uninterrupted, until today. Previous studies have suggested that this wave of opposition is attributable to a robust and ongoing period of media attention to exonerations, raising awareness of the possibility that innocent people may be—and likely, have been—executed for crimes that they did not commit. Hoping to further elucidate the relationship between media coverage of exonerations and public opinion of the death penalty, I’ve spent fourteen months reading, writing, observing, and experimenting, ultimately happening upon a number of interesting findings. For one, it appears as though all exonerations are not created equal: according to a survey that I conducted in the Northwestern Political Science Research Laboratory, individuals are significantly more confident that exonerees are truly innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted if their release was facilitated by DNA evidence (as opposed to other means). Though perhaps unsurprising, this result is unsettling —it seems that scientific evidence, above all else, casts doubt upon the efficacy of a justice system plagued with errors that are often uncovered without the necessity or even possibility of DNA assistance. Moreover, I found that confidence in exoneree innocence likely has an independent effect on attitudes toward capital punishment. Given that the role of DNA evidence in media coverage of exonerations differs dramatically between stories and over time, it is not far-fetched to posit that the media have a far more complex relationship with public opinion of the death penalty than scholars have heretofore acknowledged. Taken as a whole, the results of this study warrant further examination of not only innocence, the media, and the death penalty, but also of our fundamental assumptions about modern criminal justice.

Julia Valdes. "Individuals’ Choice of Recipient of Political Communication." Ph.D. Political Science Research (2015).

Some argue that trust in the United States government has been declining in recent decades, and that the decline has led to a decrease in political participation (Moss and Coleman 2013). Yet, others types of activities can influence political outcomes. This has been accentuated in recent work on “private politics” (Baron 2001; Diermeier 2009a; etc.), where individuals and non-profits directly lobby companies and corporations to achieve political outcomes. This raises the question: do citizens have more of an inclination to engage in private politics than alternative forms of politics? This study tested the extent to which individuals will choose to target a corporation or government agency will depend on the extent to which they believe the government should act like a private corporation, as well as their trust in government and feelings of efficacy. To do this, I designed a unique experiment where individuals will be asked to sign an e-petition directed towards a government agency or a private corporation.

Ethan Busby. "Is it better to be anxious or indecisive? A comparison of two approaches to partisan motivated reasoning." Ph.D. Political Science Research (Spring and Fall 2014).

This project examined the role of various kinds of messages can influence individuals' ability to make political choices and form political attitudes objectively. In a survey format, participants read one of a number of messages and were then asked to read information on a political issue and express their opinion on that issue. These messages involved the experience of various emotions and concerns about the individuals' attachments to the two major political parties. Previous studies using online samples validated the questions used in this traditional laboratory setting, and the student subject pool was used to increase the scope of those earlier surveys. The data gathered from this research contributed to the broader areas of political preferences, information processing, motivated reasoning, the nature of political partisanship, and the role of emotions in the political realm.

Christoph Nguyen. Ph.D. Political Science Dissertation Research (2014).

The purpose of the study is to explore the role that moods/emotions have in shaping the ways in which individuals assign responsibility or economic hardship, and how these differing attributions translate into party evaluations and vote choice. Moreover, the role of partisanship will also be explored. The study leverages a 3x2 between-subjects design. Study participants will be randomly assigned to control and treatment groups. The core task for all groups will be the same: First, they will be exposed to different videos that prime either anxiety, anger, or a neutral emotional state. Secondly, they will be exposed to a newspaper article that was edited to portray the US economy either in a positive or negative light.

Leslie McCall, Sociology Faculty Research (2014).

We are conducting a research study to find out more about the psychological processes involved in people’s attitudes towards a variety of social and political topics and issues. Participants will be asked to read an article on a current social or political issue/topic and answer a series of questions regarding their opinions, preferences, and beliefs, as well as provide us with some basic demographic information.Taking part in this study may help researchers better understand people’s attitudes about various social and political issues and how those attitudes are formed.

Kevin Mullinix. Ph.D. Political Science Dissertation Research (2013-2014).

How does elite partisan polarization impact political preference formation in the mass public? In contrast to previous research that finds that polarization heightens partisan biases in the mass public, this study suggests that the consequences are dependent upon the manner in which polarization is discussed. Building upon a content analysis of how the media discuss elite polarization, I suggest that when polarization is criticized and appeals are made for compromise, partisan biases in the mass public are mitigated. The study has implications for the quality and nature of public opinion and citizen competence.

Rachel Moskowitz. Ph.D. Political Science Dissertation Research (2013-2014).

This project expands on the growing body of work that identifies the significant role of non-cognitive skills - not content knowledge, but psycho-social behaviors, skills, and attitudes - in academic success (work found in educational psychology). To explore these issues, I fielded a laboratory experiment where respondents were randomly assigned to one of nine conditions about a fictional student. The factors include race (black or white), class (low-income or upper-income), and school quality (fairly successful or nearly failing). I apply research on the power of visual cues and the findings on racial prejudice and implicit racial priming that indicate that subtle racial images can cue racial attitudes (e.g. see Druckman 2003; Mendelberg 2001). I find that these cues affect the perception of a student’s motivations and other academic mindsets. However, the findings about a school-level policy attitude (i.e., school closings) while still related to the individual student’s race and class, were most affected by the school’s overall quality.

Joshua Robison. Ph.D. Political Science Dissertation Research (2014).

Media coverage of political conflict often contains information concerning the motives of elite agents or the causes of political events. This study focuses on how descriptions of the causes of elite polarization influence how individuals interpret political arguments made by party representatives. In particular, it focuses on how description of elite polarization as either caused by the strategic incentives of partisan elites or by their differences in values affects source credibility and party framing.

Yanna Krupnikov. Political Science Faculty Research (2012).

The study was part of a larger research project about the way individuals use new information to make political choices. In particular, the project focuses on the way individuals might respond to new information that may be considered "controversial" or argumentative. The study conducted in Fall 2012 will work to complement an analysis of survey and advertising data from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections.

Brian Harrison. Political Science Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2012).

There is limited evidence from existing studies - both experimental and observational - that persuasive messages last in a competitive media environment and over-time. For example, existing work shows that when respondents are exposed to frames with opposite sides of an issue, framing effects are diminished since people will balance these competing options (Chong & Druckman 2007b; Sniderman & Theriault 2004; Hansen 2007). The passage of time also has an effect, as the few experimental studies of communication effects dictate, showing that treatment effects only last several days at most (Tewksbury et al. 2000, Druckman & Nelson 2003, de Vreese 2004, Mutz & Reeves 2005; Iyengar and Kinder 1987: 24-26). Despite this existing scholarship, little to no work has extended this theory to Presidential communication or to persuasion on political issues (i.e. agenda-setting or priming). This study seeks to do just that. Specifically, partisan responses that increase the salience of existing partisan identity should justify the importance of an issue and therefore should lead to more durable agenda-setting effects. I expect that agenda setting may last for everyone, regardless of their partisan identity, but information search, Presidential approval, and issue persuasion will be partisanship-dependent. In sum, this experiment will explore these issues by looking at over-time measurement with information-seeking choices, expecting that effects on approval and agenda setting last under certain conditions depending on a competitive media/message environment, partisan identity, and the choice of pursuing information.

Kevin J. Mullinix. “Deception and Experimental Validity.” Political Science Ph.D. Student Research (2012).

In this study, I examine how deception in experiments impact subjects' behavior in subsequent experiments. Rooted in this question is a significant concern about the validity of experiments. Interestingly, the disciplines of psychology and economics are sharply divided on the issue, but only a few studies directly examine how deception affects experimental validity. Druckman et al. (2006; 2011) document the burgeoning use and prominence of experiments in political science, and report that 31 percent of the laboratory experiments appearing in the first hundred volumes of the American Political Science Review use deception. In this study, the effects of a common form of deception are assessed in the context of traditional political communication experiments. This analysis moves beyond the existing literature to examine conditional effects for the time between the deception and subsequent experiments, and the similarity of experimental tasks.

Brian Harrison. “The Partisan Pulpit: Motivated Reasoning and Partisan Evaluations of the President.” Political Science Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2011).

This experiment examines how partisanship affects attitudes and evaluations of the President and his communication. Integral to this experiment are statements priming partisanship (high or low) as well as videos of President Obama edited to either include or exclude partisan references. The expectation is that in the high partisanship conditions, since partisanship is made more salient by the prime, in-party and out-party partisans will diverge sharply in their evaluations of the issues and approval of the President depending on whether they identify with the same or opposing political party as the President. As the level of partisanship primed decreases in the prime and in the conditions where party mentions are not present, I expect the differences between partisans (out-party vs. in-party) to be smaller. In other words, as partisanship is primed more strongly, people should be more likely to engage in motivated reasoning, with their attitudes and behavior more heavily reliant on existing party cues and identities.

Samara Klar. “Voices of Reason: The Moderating Influence of Diverse Discussion on Strong and Weak Partisans.” Political Science Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2011-12).

In this experiment, I demonstrate that deliberation within ideological diverse discussion groups has a strong moderating effect on biased decision-making — even among the strongest of partisans. By manipulating both party attachment and also group ideological composition in an experimental setting, I find that when strong partisans discuss political issues with those with whom they disagree, they are significantly more likely to give even-handed consideration to both sides of an issue. This experiment suggests that strong partisans in diverse social settings are perhaps more fair and balanced than existing political science literature would suggest.

Thomas J. Leeper. “Mass Polarization: The Effects of Issue Importance and the Information Environment.” Political Science Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2011).

Recent theorizing on political communication has seen the political information environment as a central mechanism for polarization. But what effects does the information environment really have? If citizens are seen as capable of sampling information from the environment and updating their preferences in turn, then a diverse information environment should cause little polarization. If a directionally slanted environment provides credible information, the public should be responsive in the direction that information points them on policy issues. If, however, individuals select information from their environment and evaluate that information in a biased fashion, individuals may be much less likely to respond to the informational contents of their environment. Reinforcing their prior opinions and developing more extreme viewpoints would be much more likely. In fact, in this style of political cognition, the contents of the environment might matter very little. This researcher therefore examines how the contents of the information environment and the nature of individuals' attitudes affect polarization over time.

Jon Caverley. Political Science Faculty Research (2012).

The objective of this project is to understand how military leaders can (and do) influence foreign policy debate through their influence on public opinion about military actions abroad. Military leaders are conceptualized as potentially biased sources of information who are uniquely expert (and therefore credible) about foreign policy. Given that military leaders are (and can be perceived as) partisan actors, the experiment examines how this partisanship can moderate the effect of their expertise on opinion. Additionally, military leaders — particularly if they are perceived as partisan — do not operate in isolation from the broader political context; therefore, the study additionally examines whether this perceived partisanship interacts with perceptions of Congressional policy preferences to influence public opinions about military engagement abroad.

Seoyoon Choi. “How Americans Structure Political Attitudes.” Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2011).

This study examines the relationship between an organizing principle of attitudes and attitude consistency of American voters. The study seeks to answer the following question: what belief or value do citizens employ as an organizing principle of their attitudes? To do this, this study tests whether a historically ingrained sentiment is the principle by which Americans develop their attitudes toward social and economic issues.

Jason Seawright. Political Science Faculty Research (2011).

Research has shown that emotions can influence the way people think about risky propositions, including political issues. This study seeks to extend this line of inquiry to discover whether there is a relationship between mood and the process by which individuals form views about the likely severity of, and desirability of various remedies for, global warming. In addition to bringing ideas about emotion and decision-making into the discussion of a major new issue domain, this research will also permit exploration of interactions between preexisting cognitive belief systems (e.g., liberal or conservative ideologies) and emotion in preference formation.

Kieran Bezila. Sociology Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2011).

This research marries the classic "public goods game" with individualized trajectories for subjects in and out of groups over time in order to examine how anticipation of future social relationships may affect people's current decisions to cooperate or compete on joint projects.

Thomas J. Leeper. “How Attentive Do Citizens Need to Be to 'Get' the News?” Ph.D. Dissertation Research (2011).

This research explores the various ways that people might be exposed to information about political issues. Political communication experiments typically rely on “captive exposure,” wherein research participants receive messages in a high-intensity, undistracted fashion. What happens if we break this experimental norm? Are citizens still affected by political communications when they search for information or when they just happen to be exposed to political information as a byproduct of other activity?

Erik Peterson. “Competitive Partisan Issue Framing.” Undergraduate Honors Thesis (2011).

Stephanie Letzler. “The Post-Feminist Female Voter: Is 'Sisterhood' Still Powerful?” Undergraduate Honors Thesis (2011).

Popular opinion assumes that female voters will have a natural affinity for female candidates because of an in-group bias. However, this view fails to account for generational differences between women and whether or not they perceive their gender as a relevant political identity. My study seeks to evaluate whether or not college-aged women have internalized an individualist (postfeminist) female identity and to what extent they respond negatively to candidate appeals to a collectivist female identity.

Monica Prasad. “The Influence of Recipient's Race on Altruism.” Sociology faculty Research.

Does the race of the recipient affect altruism? We conducted 133 trials of a laboratory experiment on college students to answer this question. We found that subjects gave slightly more money to black recipients, but this difference was not statistically significant. However, we also found that subjects who "strongly" or "moderately" favored European-American faces on the Implicit Association Test gave less money to a black recipient than others, and this difference was significant at the .05 level using a two-tailed test and at the .01 level using a one-tailed test. The mean amount given to a black recipient by those who showed a strong or moderate predisposition to favor European Americans (over half the sample) was $4.13. The mean amount given to a black recipient by all others was $7.30, or more than 75% more. This difference represents more than 15% of the total payoff that subjects were asked to split. We conclude that in this laboratory context, those with a measurable prejudice favoring European-Americans act on that prejudice in exchanges with African-Americans. A secondary conclusion of our study is that the Implicit Association Test does correlate with behavior.