I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, supporting both the Public Opinion Learning and Sentiment (POLS) Lab and the Policy Research Support Lab. In 2020, I will join the Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford University as a TomKat Center postdoctoral researcher, investigating public misperceptions on climate change.
My research broadly deals with electoral accountability, misperception, and political polarization in the United States. I have been involved in a number of projects that seek to determine how citizens process new political information and hold politicians accountable for their actions. My dissertation research addresses the topic of political compassion. I argue that the determination that a politician is compassionate often depends on citizens perceiving a commonality that links them to the politician. I develop a classification scheme for the sources of commonality between citizens and politicians, including shared experience, shared emotion, and shared identity. These connections are critical in proving to citizens that a politician is truly empathetic and deserving of support. In related research (published in Political Behavior), my colleagues and I find that many Americans are unaware that Donald Trump was born wealthy, and this misperception leads them to view him as more empathetic toward the common person and more competent a businessman.
Beyond my dissertation project, I have been involved in research projects seeking to understand how Americans respond to a president who backs down from a foreign adversary. Two articles from this research have been accepted at The Journal of Politics. I am also working on a project that shows how transitory self-esteem (such as a sudden drop or increase) is linked directly with the strength of one’s social identities.
Finally, I am working on a number of projects in the field of survey methodology. My colleagues and I developed an honesty pledge that significantly reduced vote overreporting in the 2014 election (published in Electoral Studies). I also worked as the Research Methodology Fellow with the Washington Post’s Polling Division in 2018 and am currently working with them on research that identifies the most accurate likely voter models. Most recently I published an article examining the advantages and limitations of survey experiments using hypothetical politicians. I argue that the political behavior literature would benefit from the greater use of survey experiments high in realism.