- Research Fellow in Political Science
- Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences
- Australian Catholic University
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019
Despite decades of declining crime rates, longstanding tensions between police and the public continue to frustrate the formation of cooperative relationships necessary for the function of the police and the provision of public safety. In response, policy makers continue to promote community-oriented policing (COP) and its emphasis on positive, non-enforcement contact with the public as an effective strategy for enhancing public trust and police legitimacy. Prior research designs, however, have not leveraged the random assignment of police-public contact to identify the causal effect of such interactions on individual-level attitudes toward the police. Therefore, the question remains: Do positive, non-enforcement interactions with uniformed patrol officers actually cause meaningful improvements in attitudes toward the police? Here, we report on a randomized field experiment conducted in New Haven, CT, that sheds light on this question and identifies the individual-level consequences of positive, non-enforcement contact between police and the public. Findings indicate that a single instance of positive contact with a uniformed police officer can substantially improve public attitudes toward police, including legitimacy and willingness to cooperate. These effects persisted for up to 21 d and were not limited to individuals inclined to trust and cooperate with the police prior to the intervention. This study demonstrates that positive non-enforcement contact can improve public attitudes toward police and suggests that police departments would benefit from an increased focus on strategies that promote positive police-public interactions.
American Political Science Review, 2020
Why have decades of high and rising inequality in the United States not increased public support for redistribution? An established theory in political science holds that Americans’ distrust of government decreases their support for redistribution, but empirical support draws primarily on regression analyses of national surveys. I discuss the untestable assumptions required for identification with regression modeling and propose an alternative design that uses randomized experiments about political corruption to identify the effect of trust in government on support for redistribution under weaker assumptions. I apply this to three survey experiments and estimate the effects that large, experimentally-induced increases in political trust have on support for redistribution. Contrary to theoretical predictions, estimated effects are substantively negligible, statistically indistinguishable from zero, and comparable to estimates from two placebo experiments. I discuss implications for theory-building about causes of support for redistribution in an era of rising inequality and eroding confidence in government.
Journal of Politics, 2021
Political scientists regularly measure anti-Black prejudice in the survey context using racial resentment, an indirect measure that blends racial animus with traditional moral values. Explicit prejudice, a direct measure based in beliefs about the group-level inferiority of Blacks, is used less frequently. We investigate whether these attitudes predict anti-Black discrimination and evaluations of the fairness of intergroup inequality. Study 1 used the Ultimatum Game to obtain a behavioral measure of racial discrimination and found whites engaged in anti-Black discrimination. Explicit prejudice explained which whites discriminated, whereas resentment did not. In study 2, white third-party observers evaluated intergroup interactions in the Ultimatum Game, and explicit prejudice explained racially biased fairness evaluations, but resentment did not. This demonstrates that resentment and prejudice are distinct constructs and that explicit prejudice has clear behavioral implications. We also find that explicit prejudice is widespread among white Americans and significantly less partisan than resentment.
Journal of Experimental Political Science, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic imposed new constraints on empirical research, and online data collection by social scientists increased. Generalizing from experiments conducted during this period of persistent crisis may be challenging due to changes in how participants respond to treatments or the composition of online samples. We investigate the generalizability of COVID era survey experiments with 33 replications of 12 pre-pandemic designs, fielded across 13 quota samples of Americans between March and July 2020. We find strong evidence that pre-pandemic experiments replicate in terms of sign and significance, but at somewhat reduced magnitudes. Indirect evidence suggests an increased share of inattentive subjects on online platforms during this period, which may have contributed to smaller estimated treatment effects. Overall, we conclude that the pandemic does not pose a fundamental threat to the generalizability of online experiments to other time periods.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022
Diversification of police forces is widely promoted as a reform for reducing racial disparities in police-civilian interactions and increasing police legitimacy. Despite these potential benefits, nearly every municipal police department in the United States remains predominately White and male. Here we investigate whether the scale and persistence of minority under-representation in policing might partly be explained by a lack of support for diversification among voters and current police officers. Across two studies (N = 2,661) sampling the U.S. adult population and residents from a city with one of the least representative police forces in the country, individuals significantly overestimate officer diversity at both the local and national level. We find that correcting these biased beliefs with accurate information reduces trust in police and increases support for hiring new officers from under-represented groups. In the municipal sample, these corrections also cause an increase in residents' willingness to vote for reforms to diversify their majority White police department. Additional paired decision-making experiments (N = 1,663) conducted on these residents and current police officers demonstrate that both prefer hiring new officers from currently under-represented groups, independent of civil service exam performance and other hiring criteria. Overall, these results suggest that attitudes among voters and police officers are unlikely to pose a major barrier to diversity reforms.
icsw R package to estimate average treatment effects under non-compliance using inverse compliance score weighting
attentive R package to identify survey respondents that come from web applications and mobile devices
Last updated February 2023.