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Faculty Projects for GPL Fellows, 2023-24

Strong Parties and Military Behavior During Authoritarianism, Democratic Transitions, and Democratic Development

Prof. Darin Self

My research focuses on the various ways that authoritarian incumbent parties and militaries affect political development. Specifically, I have multiple projects looking at how the characteristics of authoritarian parties affect their capacity to stave off democratization or how they affect the development of democracy. I also have a book project that looks at the different ways that militaries restrain civilians during democratic transitions. This project looks at all democratic transitions out of military rule since the end of WWII to analyze the various ways that militaries bind democracy. This will require researching each individual democratic transition and analyzing the military's behavior to identify how the military constrains civilians. I am also in the early stages of developing a new project that will analyze democratic backsliding in each region of the world.

Undergraduate fellows: Grant Mitchell and Shari Franke

Populism, Polarization, and Conspiracy

Prof. Kirk Hawkins

Countries around the world are seeing an increase in political polarization driven by populist movements. By “populist,” we mean that these movements see politics as a cosmic struggle between the will of the common people and an evil elite; this rhetoric is highly conspiratorial, treating politics as the product of sinister forces acting secretly for their selfish interests. The social divisions that result from these movements and their rhetoric, especially when they come to power, are harming democracy around the globe. In this multifaceted project, we use several techniques to understand and find solutions to these problems. These include (a) testing the effectiveness of recent programs for depolarizing citizens, (b) gauging the nature of conspiracy theories in public discourse, and (c) measuring the impact of populism on democratic institutions. Fellows are welcome to pursue projects in any of these areas.

Undergraduate fellow: Katelyn Gale

War Termination

Prof. Chad Nelson

Why do wars end when they do? This question has been dominated by the bargaining framework, which explains war duration in terms of when misperceptions of resolve or power are cleared up, or when commitment problems are overcome. I have some issues with how this bargaining framework is often applied, and I have a project where I apply those critiques to what explains when the Iran-Iraq War ended when it did. A GPL fellow working on this topic would become familiar with the bargaining literature, dig into the course of a particular interstate conflict, and assess the extent to which the theories explain the case or if the case suggests our theories need to be modified.

Conspiracy Theories in the Arab Middle East

Prof. David Romney

Why do states promote conspiracy theories to their citizens? In previous research using newspaper media in Egypt, co-authors and I have found that state promulgation of conspiracy theories closely tracks with potentially destabilizing incidents (e.g. attacks and violence) and with regime change. With a current set of RAs, I have gathered additional data from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq. I am looking to add multiple RAs to this project. First, RAs without Arabic skills would use R to help me gather (scrape from the web) and analyze additional newspaper media sources from Middle Eastern countries. Skills in statistical programming, web scraping, and textual analysis are useful but not required. Additionally, I am seeking Arabic-speaking RAs who would be interested in qualitatively analyzing the news articles we scrape as well as overseeing the classification of articles based on coding criteria. For the student's project, I could advise students who want to use web scraping to gather their own data on a research question of interest, or I could advise students who want to use the Arabic news media data for a separate project.

Undergraduate fellow: Margarita Haro

Ethnic Voting in Malaysia

Prof. David Romney

What leads to support for political parties that are tied to ethnic or religious identities? How do perceptions of unity or dissent within your group affect that support? I am running a national survey in Malaysia studying these questions with a focus on ethnic Malays, the majority ethnic group in Malaysia who are also Muslim. Students working on this project would use R to help me analyze results from the survey and potentially analyze related observational data from Malaysian political parties. For the student's project, I could advise a student who wants to analyze the survey data in a different way, or who wants to analyze election outcomes and ethnic voting in Malaysia more generally.

Undergraduate fellow: Samuel Yeboah

Ingroup Policing in Israel

Prof. David Romney

One thing I study are the norms that guide the behavior of individuals who belong to social groups in conflict/tension. For instance, I have a project in Israel that has explored how Israeli Jews respond to criticism from within—are people convinced when a member of their group "polices" misbehavior by a fellow group member, or do they rebel against them and defend reprehensible behavior by members of their group? In a survey experiment, I am exploring this dynamic in the context of statements by elites, such as a military leader or a politician, condemning misbehavior within their group. The student would help me analyze the data from that experiment as well as explore their own, related questions using the survey data.

Undergraduate fellow: Vanessa Tuttle

Media, Local Political Sentiment, and Voluntary Military Enlistment

Prof. Douglas Atkinson

How do local politics and media sentiment affect the willingness of individuals to volunteer for military service during times of war? Political science has largely left this question unanswered. With this project, we are going to help fix this. To answer these questions, you will be using new and original data on every individual that volunteered for service with the United States military during the first 4 months of the Second World War. In addition to this, you will also help create a measure of local sentiment by using text-as-data techniques on thousands of local and regional newspapers. It would be helpful if you had skills in web scraping, text-as-data techniques, and Python, however, you are still more than welcome to join this project if you do not yet have these skills.

Undergraduate fellow: Jonathan Harman

Affect and Intergroup Prejudice Reduction

Prof. Josh Gubler

This political psychology project focuses on the role of affect and emotion in intergroup prejudice reduction. Research fellows will participate in experimental work on affect and prejudice reduction in a variety of contexts, and doing a variety of tasks (helping with research design, literature reviews, data analysis, etc.). They will need competence in in statistical analysis using R.

Undergraduate fellow: Julia Chatterley

Politics from Economic Globalization

Prof. Celeste Beesley

Economic Globalization impacts economic, social, environmental, and political realities for people around the world. For many years globalization was seen as something countries had little power or desire to restrict. Only certain policies were seen as viable ways to manage the challenges of globalization without foregoing the opportunities that it represents. More recent political backlashes against globalization have re-opened debate about winning and losing from globalization and what states can do about it. My research examines globalization's effects on political attitudes (broadly defined) as well as attitudes towards globalization. I am open to mentoring projects related to questions about globalization combined with any of the following: corruption; sexism; gender; environmental attitudes; welfare state/redistributive preferences; or war/attitudes towards war/security related foreign policy.

Undergraduate fellow: Isabella Felin

Diplomatic Intervention and Conflict Management

Prof. Rebecca Dudley


How does the involvement of a third-party state or international organization impact the dynamics of a conflict resolution process? What types of diplomatic foreign policy tools are most effectively used by these third parties to aid in successful conflict management? This project examines the tools of diplomatic intervention and their relative use and effectiveness in the context of conflict diplomacy. Large-N quantitative analysis supplemented by illustrative case studies are the primary methodologies of the project, and GPL fellows working on the project would be digging into the details of a specific case of conflict diplomacy and/or gathering and analyzing data. The project thus far has focused on diplomatic interventions by the United States, but a fellow could also choose to look at diplomatic interventions by international organizations or another country of interest. If interested, GPL fellows could also be involved in a parallel project on the composition of armed groups involved in conflicts, assessing how the relationship between military and political wings of armed groups impact conflict termination and recurrence.

Undergraduate fellow: Emma Dart

Majorities and Minorities

Prof. Quinn Mecham


If members of an identity group go from being a majority to a minority, how does this change their political behavior? This project examines cases where there is a rapid shift in the perception of a group’s majority or minority status. We will be testing hypotheses about changes in minority and majority group behaviors in contexts such as: a change in borders, rapid immigration, a change in political regime/electoral district, or dispersal of an identity group across different national borders. Participants will work on drafting relevant case studies, building and assessing survey experiments in Germany, Malaysia, and Jordan, and designing and running local lab experiments.

Undergraduate fellow: Abby Child

Comparative Identity Party Politics

Prof. Quinn Mecham

How is the politics of identity expressed in electoral processes in countries with religious, ethnic, and ideological parties? This project compares religious identity-based political parties in Muslim-majority countries with identity-based political parties in other comparative contexts. What best explains why people support identity-based parties vs. patronage-based or platform-based parties in elections? This project uses case study methods, along with survey methods to examine the effects of identity-party strategies to generate electoral support in the Middle East, as well as parts of Asia and Africa. We will be conducting and examining survey experiments in North Africa, Jordan, and Malaysia.

Undergraduate fellow: Savannah Leavitt

Support for Democracy and Evidence-based Policy in Developing Countries

Prof. Darren Hawkins


Support for democracy is declining around the world. Why? Which types of people have the strongest support for democracy? What role do public servants play in preserving democracy? One essential feature of democracy is government responsiveness to public needs. High-quality evidence can improve public policies. Are bureaucrats willing to use high-quality evidence in crafting their policies? We have created a website,, that compiles information on policy impact from more than 1,000 academic studies. We have also developed a method for identifying and surveying government officials in developing countries. We invite help in surveying both the public and public servants about their support for democracy and in identifying methods to promote and evaluate the use of our website.

Undergraduate fellow: Annie Marie Ackerman

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