Interdisciplinary Workshops on Politics and Policy

2016-2017 Series

September October November December January
February March April May June


Latinos Rising to the Challenge: Political Responses to Threat and Opportunity Messages

September 14, 2016   *Lunch will be provided
Vanessa Cruz Nichols


My research aims to re-assess the common belief that threat mobilizes people to participate in the American political system. A frequently used tactic of political activists is to frame the policy issues that they wish to challenge as potential threats or attacks to people’s personal interests. The underlying theory suggests that the use of threat tactics shake people out of their political apathy.

While it might seem intuitive that people would be more mobilized if they are alerted to a crisis that would jeopardize their interests, it may be counter-productive to only emphasize the crisis at hand. For instance, in the field of persuasive communication, fear appeals were found to be unsuccessful unless an effective remedy was offered as an alternative. Instead of using the alarm-only approach as seen in previous threat appraisal studies, it is important to couple one’s sense of urgency with alternative messages pointing to opportunities or policy initiatives individuals or groups can aspire to accomplish. By using this two-pronged approach of threat and opportunity cues, people are more likely to believe their contribution makes a difference. To test the causal inference of my hypotheses, I rely on an original online survey experiment with 1,001 Latino adults in the U.S. and their exposure to single-cue and simultaneous threat and opportunity immigration policy messages. I find that those jointly exposed to threat and opportunity frames yield greater levels of intended and observed political participation. Combining threat messages with more opportunity-based policy alternatives may be the most ideal strategy to mobilize a group to rise, and not succumb, to the challenge before them.

"Wealth Rules, Average Citizens are Thwarted" and "Not so Fast! Public Opinion and Policy Representation"

September 21, 2016   *This talk is in 6050 ISR   *lunch will be provided
Live Stream
Christopher Wlezien (University of Texas – Austin) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern University)

Sectarian Framing in the Syrian Civil War

September 28, 2016 *Lunch will be provided
Dan Corstange (Columbia University)

How do civilians respond to civil war narratives? Do they react to ethnic frames more strongly than to alternatives? Governments and rebels battle for hearts and minds as well as strategic terrain, and winning the narrative war can shift legitimacy, popular support, and material resources to the sympathetically framed side. We examine the effect of one-sided and competing war discourses on ordinary people's understandings of the Syrian civil war --- a conflict with multiple narratives, but which has become more communal over time. We conduct a framing experiment with a representative sample of Syrian refugees in Lebanon in which we vary the narrative that describes the reasons for the conflict. We find that sectarian explanations, framed in isolation, have a strong mobilizing effect that increases the importance people place on fighting, but only among government supporters. When counterframed against competing narratives, however, the mobilizing effect of sectarianism drops and vanishes.


What We Know So Far About the 2016 Elections

October 5, 2016   *This talk is in 1430 ISR
Ken Kollman, Tasha Philpot, Univ. of Texas-Austin, Stuart Soroka, Mike Traugott, Nicholas Valentino

More Information

When Common Identities Decrease Trust: An Experimental Study of Democratic and Republican Women

October 12, 2016 *Lunch will be provided
Samara Klar (University of Arizona)

American partisans hold strong preferences for members of their own party and even express personal distrust towards members of the opposing party. Nevertheless, other group memberships exist simultaneously – such as race, ethnicity, or gender – and these identities cut across partisanship. When Democrats and Republicans share a common social identity does this engender trust between them, or does it fuel further distrust? Relying on economic theories of identity loss and literature on the origins of inter-group rivalry, I theorize and demonstrate that when policies are framed in terms of gender, sharing a common gender identity in fact exacerbates distrust between female Democrats and Republicans. This study includes three experiments conducted on a sample of 2,100 American women. The findings hold direct implications for the influence of women in political positions and it provides new advances into our understanding of how rivals with cross-cutting identities interact in political settings.

Do Voters Prefer Gender Stereotypic Candidates? Evidence from a Conjoint Survey Experiment In Japan

October 19, 2016 *Lunch will be provided
Yoshikuni Ono (Tohoku University)
This event is co-sponsored with the Center for Japanese Studies

There is a huge gender disparity in representation among elected officials in Japan. Although women compose a majority of the population, the percentage of women holding seats in the parliament is below 20 percent, partly because voters are biased against female candidates. To survive electoral competition, therefore, female candidates may need to avoid conforming to their gender stereotypic image. Yet, we know little about whether and to what extent female candidates are rewarded or punished when they deviate from their gender stereotypic image. Using a conjoint survey experiment, we demonstrate that not only female candidates are disadvantaged compared to their male counterparts, but also they could suffer around a five percentage point penalty when they diverge from gender stereotypes. This suggests that female candidates face a difficult dilemma because avoiding such negative sanctions by playing their gender role may result in producing a potential for further gender-based prejudice against themselves.


October 26, 2016
Michael Heaney



November 2, 2016
Arthur Lupia

Post Election Talk

November 30, 2016
Speaker TBA



December 7, 2016
speaker to be announced


Inglehart Event

January 11, 2017   *This talk is in 6050 ISR
Ron Inglehart


January 18, 2017
speaker to be announced


January 25, 2017
Jennifer Lawless (American University)



February 1, 2017
speaker to be announced


February 8, 2017
Matthew Grossmann (IPPSR – Michigan State University)


February 15, 2017
Spencer Piston (Boston University) Ashley Jardina (Duke University)


February 22, 2017
speaker to be announced



March 8, 2017
Dan Hopkins (University of Pennsylvania)


March 15, 2017
Shana Gadarian (Maxwell School of Syracuse University)


March 22, 2017
Ali Valenzuela (Princeton University)


March 29, 2017
speaker to be announced



April 12, 2017
speaker to be announced


April 19, 2017
Melissa R. Michelson (Menlo College)


April 26, 2017
Ben Highton (University of California – Davis)



May 3, 2017
Elizabeth Suhay (American University)


May 10, 2017
Eric Groenendyk (University of Memphis) and Yanna Krupnikov (State Univ. of New York – Stony Brook)



All workshops take place on Wednesdays from noon-1:30pm in 6006 ISR (unless otherwise noted).

Unless otherwise noted all presentations are brown bag lunch.

Past Series