My dissertation project examines why people choose the information sources they do and what consequences such choices have for how people think about politics. I focus specifically on Russia, where the majority of people rely on state media sources, especially state television, as their primary source of information about politics and current events. State television regularly distorts and censors information to reflect the Kremlin’s preferred narrative. My dissertation explores demand for news media in such a context from the perspective of political psychology. I ask 1) why people choose the state and non-state information sources they do 2) why trust remains high in state sources, despite their use of censorship and distortion and 3) why trust in state television varies across individuals and subject areas. As part of my dissertation research, I have conducted three original surveys about media habits, attitudes toward media and political beliefs. A pre-analysis plan for my most recent survey can be found here.

Field work in Moscow

I’m also interested in developing and evaluating the tools social scientists use to study political psychology and political communications. I’m particularly interested in how we measure attitudes and preferences, and the consequences of these choices for the conclusions we draw. I was involved in a project that critically examined and compared a series of innovative measurement tools used in economics, psychology and political science to study interethnic attitudes and ethnic bias. Our paper draws on a series of experiments and surveys conducted in a lab in Nairobi, Kenya shortly before the 2017 Kenyan presidential elections.