About

I am a current PhD candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. I work with Yphtach Lelkes and am a member of the Democracy and Information Group and the Digital Media, Networks, and Political Communication Group. My current research occurs at the intersection of computational social science, political science, and cultural studies. I am particularly interested in the feedback loop between cultural tastes and political identity. My proposed dissertation will assess the relationship between partisanship and cultural taste, employing both experiments and observational network analyses.

In 2016, I earned degrees in English Literature and Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo, a small state college in Upstate New York. My senior honors thesis provided a sociological perspective on the social functions of critics and criticism in the 21st Century. In 2014, I helped start The Canonicity Project, a student led research group, with my good friend Ben Wach and our research advisor Dr. Gillian Paku. My research ended up involving the study of literary spaces and their manipulation, and how they influence our perception of culture. In particular, I worked on developing a theoretical framework for critiquing cultural objects that matches the standards for rigor and ethics necessary of the field.

While I did not have much of it, I spent my time outside of academics contributing to Geneseo's cross country and track and field teams. In my undergraduate years, my personal bests were: 25:14 for the 8k, 15:34 for the 5k, and 31:20 for the 10k. In 2013, I ran at my first NCAA D3 Cross Country Championships. In 2014 and 2015, I had the honor of captaining the Geneseo Cross Country team. In 2015, I ran in my second NCAA D3 Cross Country Championships, helping Geneseo earn a 3rd place finish, the highest finish in the program's history. Today, while I do not run as much, I now devote some of my free time during the fall cross country season to collecting race results and using speed ratings to predict the team results at the D3 championships.

Research

Culture and Partisanship

Partisan Overlap in Cultural Preferences: A Mixed-Methods Approach

Partisans are divided in their non-political preferences, leading to prejudiced interpersonal interactions. In particular, significant attention has been given to how partisans are divided by their entertainment-media preferences, which may indicate deep divisions in taste associated with partisanship. However, this divide may only be minimal and associated with the abandonment of preferences in the face of the group-identity misrecognition and competing influences. To test both possibilities, I asked partisans to recommend films every American should see in their lifetimes and to justify their recommendations. These recommendations were then the basis for constructing an audience network, for which I assessed fragmentation. Similarly, I coded respondents’ justifications and then modeled the occurrence of themes on respondent features. Results provide little support for the existence of deep cultural divides. Democrats and Republicans recommended many of the same films and used the same justifications for doing so, suggesting that arguments over cultural divergence may be overstated.

ICA 2020 -

Partisanship or Culture? The Effects of Information Variety and Volume on Trust

Co-Authored with Do Eon Lee

There is little doubt over the existence of affective polarization, but findings on the related causal effects of party cues on non-political behavior may be affected by design decisions related to the volume and types of information used in experiments, as well as the trust framework employed. Here, we consider how these effects vary across low and high information environments for a less impactful trust context replicating initial trust conditions. We find that in low trust conditions, the effects of party cues are stable between party groups and are strong relative to the effects of other pieces of information about race, gender, religion, religiosity, policy preferences, and cultural preferences. However, such effects are reduced and become highly moderated by party affiliation within the high information environment. These findings suggest that differences between the implications of earlier research on the behavioral consequences of affective polarization and daily life may be explained by assumptions made inthe design of earlier studies.

MPSA 2019 -

Local News

National news outlets are favored over local news outlets in news aggregator results

Forthcoming in Nature Human Behaviour

Co-Authored with Kokil Jaidka and Yphtach Lelkes

Local news plays an essential role in ensuring the healthy functioning of democracy. However, local news outlets have struggled to stay open in the more competitive market of digital media. The factors contributing to this struggle are not entirely clear. Demand-side preferences certainly play a role, but supply-side decisions may also divert readership in ways that are harmful to local news outlets. To gain a better understanding of how one major kind of gatekeeper -- an online news aggregator -- may be affecting the ability of media consumers to access local news outlets, we conduct an audit of Google News. While there is very little local news on the default portal, we find evidence that the amount of local news returned by Google News depends heavily on the actual query used and not geographic or market-specific features.

Michigan Symposium on Media and Politics (2020) -

PACSS 2019 -

Local news availability does not increase pro-social pandemic response

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has been notably partisan. However, recent evidence suggests that people have also been directing more attention to local newspapers during this period. Given that local newspapers promote pro-social civic behavior, such as turning out to vote, it is possible that this increase in attention is helping communities to adopt necessary social distancing behavior. To test this possibility, I combine data from Google on mobility in thousands of American counties with counts of the number of newspapers available in each county, as well as county-level pandemic and demographic fea- tures, to model changes in staying at home and traveling for retail and recreation purposes. I find that even though behavior change is corre- lated with local newspaper availability, the association disappears when controlling for additional pandemic and demographic features. The lack of an effect persists even when applying covariate balancing propensity score weighting. The lack of a causal effect of local news availability on social distancing uptake suggests that local news is limited in its ability to undo the politicization of national issues.

Working Paper -

Supplementary Information -

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