PACS news / May 11, 2021

Stanford PACS Announces Spring 2021 Small Grant Winners

Small grant winners will study polarization from several aspects: misperceptions, animosity between political opponents, selection neglect.

Stanford PACS is excited to share our three Small Grant winners: Matt Brown, Helena Roy, and Adrian Blattner. The Small Grants program provides undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity, on a quarterly basis, to fund research projects in the areas of philanthropy and civil society. As part of the award experience, these researchers are also welcomed into the larger Stanford PACS community and have the opportunity to collaborate with established scholars, practitioners, and leaders of social change.

Research Project

Most people in the U.S. believe that their political opponents are more extreme than they really are. These misperceptions may have negative consequences for civic discourse and polarization. Where do partisan misperceptions come from? We study the role of selection neglect. If only the most extreme people talk about politics, people may mistakenly infer that the average partisan is similar to the average partisan whom they hear speaking (people forget that they are observing a selected sample). Our online experiment quantifies the importance of selection neglect. The findings will provide insights on the effects of social media on polarization and the optimal design of interventions to reduce partisan misperceptions.

White young man
Matt Brown

Matt Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in Stanford’s Department of Economics. His primary research interests are in Behavioral Economics and Political Economy. Previously, Matt has worked as a research assistant for the Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) and received a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Matt’s research studies the effects of partisan speech, the internet, and the news media on political attitudes in the United States. He applies insights from behavioral economics to understand how cognitive biases interact with information environments to create political misperceptions.

Young white woman
Helena Roy

Helena Roy is reading for a Ph.D. in Economics at Stanford University. Her research interests are in behavioral and experimental economics and industrial organization , with a focus on how people access and process information. Current projects include work on education and the digital divide in internet access, political speech on social media, and search behavior for health information online.

Prior to Stanford she received an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford, a B.A. in Economics from the University of Cambridge, and researched female labor force participation for Evidence for Policy Design (Harvard University) in London, UK, and New Delhi, India.

Research Project

Adrian’s current research examines the effect of exposure to members of a political out-group on political polarization. Jointly with Martin Koenen (Harvard University), he analyzes a field experiment in Germany that matches several thousand participants for a one-on-one conversation with a stranger who holds different political opinions. The project uses a series of survey experiments to study how contact with a political opponent may impact political positions and attitudes towards members of political out-groups.

White young man
Adrian Blattner

Adrian Blattner is a Ph.D. student in Economics at Stanford. His research incorporates experimental and econometric methods to study determinants and policies related to political polarization, gender inequality, and inequities in access to secondary education. Adrian is a lead research analyst at the World Bank, a Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholar, and an ERP fellow. Prior to Stanford, Adrian was a research fellow at the School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He holds a BSc in Politics and Economics from the University of Potsdam, Germany.