contentious interpersonal political interactions

In her dissertation, Professor Settle explored the relationship between a person's innate sensitivity to social stress, the degree of contention in his or her political environment, and voter turnout. Moving forward, this research has evolved into the NSF-funded Contentious Interpersonal Political Interactions Project. You can read a summary of the overaching project here. Students who are part of the Lab Experiments Team are currently working on a variety of studies that identify the mechanisms driving social disengagement from politics, which people are most susceptible to social stress in the political sphere, and which situations generate the most pressure toward political disengagement. We are working to implement psychophysiological measurement techniques to better assess emotional reactions to contentious political experiences. In future work, we also hope to incorporate genetic and hormonal data collection into our studies. Research assistants in this group are involved in writing literature reviews, designing new experiments, executing lab and survey experiments, and analyzing psychophysiological data.

social media and political discourse

In the past 15 years, two empirical realities have dramatically changed the day-to-day experience of politics: the effect of increasing levels of political polarization on the way citizens view other actors in the political system and the proliferation of the avenues for social interaction about politics, due largely to the development of the Internet and social media. The compound effect of increased social interaction in a more polarized political environment implies that people are more likely to encounter extreme views, information about the political beliefs of their social connections, and demands to voice their own political opinions.

Two teams of research assistants are involved in this project.
The Online Political Discussion Team reviews literature and designs studies testing how to map our theories of political behavior to the domain of behavior on online social media. They are currently designing survey experiments to explore questions related to influences on evaluations of our online political discussion partners. The Media and Public Opinion Team is exploring the connections between the traditional media, social media, and public opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare.") The larger project has three components:   1. Analyzing variation in the content and tone of newspaper coverage of the reform; 2. Characterizing the variation between states in online social media discourse during the summer of 2009; and 3. Exploring the role of sarcasm in the online social media discourse of Obamacare

To read more about the research using online social media that Professor Settle has done with her colleagues, see:

Facebook Voting
Emotional Discussion
Quantifying Politics
Inferring Friendship Ties

fostering research opportunities for undergraduates

Research assistants in the Lab Experiments Team are responsible for coordinating the Omnibus Project, with support from the Government Department, the Charles Center and the Social Science Research Methods Center. The project centralizes the recruitment and management of participants for experimental and survey-based research projects. Both faculty and students are eligible to submit projects for inclusion. For more information, see the official Omnibus Project webpage. 

Professor Settle also conducts a workshop on using the free statistical analysis program R. You can find the resources for her workshop here

Several students in the SNaPP lab are also working on independent projects and honors theses. Working in the SNaPP Lab is a great way to get experience conducting research to prepare you to conduct your own project. If you are interested in political behavior---and specifically in the role of innate dispositions, social networks, or social media to influence political behavior---you should consider getting involved in the lab. While previous SNaPP Lab experience is not a strict pre-requisite for Professor Settle to agree to oversee your project, it greatly increases the likelihood.