Dissertation

Committee members:

Dissertation Papers:

(Revise and Resubmit, Political Behavior; Received APSA 2018 John Sullivan Award)
While numerous scholars have argued that people’s political values are stable, internal predispositions that lead people to their political opinions and behaviors, in this paper I argue and show that political values are a function of contextual social cues, which makes them malleable. Using experiments and observational data, my research suggests that it is not political values that drive people’s political preferences, but rather people’s social group-memberships that lead them to the political values they express.  read paper  see appendix

This piece pits social versus elite forces to determine which is more likely to exacerbate partisan polarization. Using observational data, I find that the media’s effect on issue polarization pales in comparison to the effect of everyday social interactions. Political discussions with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, my findings suggest, are much more likely to increase issue polarization than exposure to even the most partisan media and news coverage. All analyses for this paper have been completed and I anticipate it will be under review in the Fall of 2018.

In this paper I first show that people do not strongly punish politicians who break with their party’s values—a counterintuitive finding if we believe that values are foundational in politics. Second, I argue that people are more likely to punish these candidates when they receive a social cue that the candidate has, indeed, abandoned a party’s values. Using campaign rhetoric, then, this paper reinforces the idea that political values are a function of social influence rather than stable forces guiding people’s political predispositions. This paper relies on a series of survey experiments completed with national samples in 2017 and Spring 2018. I will also be fielding an extension of this work in the Fall of 2018.