Research

Job Market Paper

  • “Evidence Can Change Partisan Minds: Rethinking the Bounds of Motivated Reasoning”
    • The conventional wisdom holds that partisans dismiss opposing information, motivated to defend their party’s position. Empirical evidence for this claim is tenuous, however, since most studies did not randomize the key independent variable — the desire to de-fend one’s party. In this article, I present two well-powered survey experiments that highlight and address common limitations in the study of motivated reasoning. Absent a partisan affect manipulation, I find, partisans were just as receptive of uncongenial information as congenial information. But when randomly induced to feel adversarial, partisans became far more dismissive of uncongenial information than congenial in-formation, which led them to disagree more, not less, after considering the same facts. These results imply that it is possible but preventable that partisans react to new infor-mation in biased ways — a finding that underscores the importance of the quality ofelite-level political discourse in determining the quality of public opinion

Peer-reviewed Publications

  • The Distorting Prism of Social Media: How Self-Selection and Exposure to Incivility Fuel Online Comment Toxicity, Conditionally accepted, Journal of Communication (with Andrew Guess, Brendan Nyhan, 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.
  • “Temporal Selective Exposure: How Partisans Choose When to Follow Politics” 2021, Political Behavior (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.
    • Replication Files
    • Top Paper Award, the Political Communication Division, the 2018 Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association.
  • 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. Our results suggest that the racial inequalities and double standards of drug policy still persist but in different form.
    • Replication Files
    • Covered in The Weeds

Other Publications

Working Papers

  • “First Time Presidential Voting and Political Trust: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design” (with Eunji Kim; On hiatus to obtain additional restricted data from ANES 2012-2020)
    • 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 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

Current Research

  • “How willing people are to give away their digital privacy? Experimental evidence from an online labor market” (With the undergraduate students in my intro to data science class at Penn)
    • Prior research shows that expressed privacy concerns often fail to predict the use of online services—a discrepancy often referred to as the “privacy paradox.” We argue that the mismatch between privacy concerns and behaviors arises because while self-reported survey items capture the fact that nobody likes privacy breaches, they fail to capture how (un)willing people are to tolerate them. To examine this argument, we ran an experiment in an online labor market, where we compare people’s willingness to take up a task when it is akin to a typical online survey vs. when it also involves highly intrusive activities. We found that most workers agree to accept the job even when it features objectively invasive requirements, though less likely so than when it involves no such requirements; and this pattern varies substantially by social media usage; the invasive features did not affect frequent social media users’ willingness to accept the job at all, whereas they lowered less frequent users’ willingness by up to 65 percentage points.
  • “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 randomizing the partisanship of accused individuals and the credibility of allegation to confirm asymmetric reactions between Democrats and Republicans.