Most research in comparative political behavior sees behavior as a consequence of an individual's intrinsic motivations, such as their attitudes or preferences. My work argues that this view is often ill-founded. Building on multidisciplinary literature on social psychology and behavioral economics, I argue that extrinsic motivations like social norms can upset the translation of preferences and attitudes into behavior. When someone feels that their views are deemed unacceptable, they may try to hide them---a phenomenon called preference falsification. This makes it possible that changes in behavior occur even in the absence of a change in preferences. The same individual with the same preferences is more likely to act on them in a setting where those preferences are deemed acceptable than in one where they are deemed unacceptable.
Building on this idea, my book project argues that recent increases in anti-democratic and extremist behavior are not simply the product of individuals become more anti-democratic or extremist. Instead, they are driven–at least partially–by individuals who had long held these preferences in private and who now feel more comfortable acting on them.
I am generally interested in how democracies generate social norms against behaviors that are associated with authoritarianism, what the origin of those norms is, and the micro-level mechanisms through which they are enforced. I try to measure these hard-to-grasp concepts with observational data, using original datasets and creative measures.
I also have a keen interest in political science methodology—particularly causal inference.
My publications, working papers and work currently in progress can be found under Publications.
Apart from my work in political science, I am a jazz musician and I am actively engaged in supporting incoming refugees. Please visit the dedicated page to learn more about these activities.
Please free to get in touch with me if you work on related topics—I would be very happy to hear from you!