Refereed publications

Brianna A. Smith. “It’s All Under Control: Threat, Perceived Control, and Political Engagement.” Political Psychology (2021). doi: 10.1111/pops.12769
Available here.

In this article, I highlight two factors which explain when threat will increase political engagement: perceived control over the threat and individual differences in threat sensitivity. Using an experiment conducted during the 2016 US general election, I show that threats framed in high-control, preventable terms increase both political interest and reported turnout relative to low-control, inevitable framing—but only among those who are high in threat sensitivity.

Goren, Paul N., Matthew P. Motta, and Brianna A. Smith. “The Ideational Foundations of Symbolic Ideology.” Advances in Political Psychology (2020). doi:10.1111/pops.12683
Available here.

We explore whether politically sophisticated and unsophisticated individuals ground symbolic ideological identities in cognitive values. Using data from two nationally representative U.S. surveys, we find that universalism and conservation predict liberal‐conservative attachments for people at all levels of sophistication. By contrast, openness to change and self‐enhancement values appear to have little influence on symbolic ideology.

Goren, Paul N., Brianna A. Smith, and Matthew P. Motta. “Human Values and Sophistication Interaction Theory.” Political Behavior (2020). doi: 10.1007/s11109-020-09611-8
Available here. Summarized in the Political Behavior blog.

We examine the degree to which education and political interest affect the structure and use of human values such as belief in universalism and tradition. We find that while people of all levels of political sophistication have well-formed concepts of their own value system, sophistication does have a (limited) effect on the use of human values in politics.

Smith, Brianna A., Scott Clifford, and Jennifer Jerit. “How Internet Search Undermines the Validity of Political Knowledge Measures.” Political Research Quarterly 73.1 (2020): 141-155. doi: 10.1177/1065912919882101
Available here.

Political knowledge is central to understanding citizens’ engagement with politics. Yet, as surveys are increasingly conducted online, participants’ ability to search the web may undermine the validity of factual knowledge measures. Using a series of experimental and observational studies, we provide consistent evidence that outside search degrades the validity of political knowledge measures. Our findings imply that researchers conducting online surveys need to take steps to discourage and diagnose search engine use.

Ekstrom, Pierce, Brianna A. Smith, Allison Williams, and Hannah Kim. “Social Network Disagreement and Reasoned Candidate Preferences” American Politics Research 48.1 (2020): 132-154. doi: 1532673X19858343
Available here. Summarized in the LSE USAPP blog.

Using panel data from the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, we find that respondents in high-disagreement networks tend to shift their attitudes and behavior to align with their policy preferences regardless of their party identification. In low-disagreement networks, respondents tended to follow party over policy. In sum, the determinants of political differ depending on individuals’ social networks.

Smith, Brianna A., Zein Murib, Matthew P. Motta, Timothy H. Callaghan, and Marissa Theys. ‘“Gay” or “Homosexual”? The Implications of Social Category Labels for the Structure of Mass Attitudes.’ American Politics Research 46.2 (2018): 336-372. doi: 10.1177/1532673X17706560
Available here. Summarized in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, and the LSE USAPP blog.

While “homosexual” and “gay and lesbian” are often regarded as synonyms, we show that wording choice is crucial to attitudes about gay and lesbian rights. We begin by providing a historical overview of these terms, and then use a survey experiment to show that attitudes about “homosexual” policies are more negative among authoritarians who view so-called “homosexuals” as an out-group – while the effect of authoritarianism and out-group context on “gay or lesbian” policies is much reduced.

Motta, Matthew P., Timothy H. Callaghan, and Brianna A. Smith. “Looking for Answers: Identifying Search Behavior and Improving Knowledge-Based Data Quality in Online Surveys.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 29.4 (2017): 575-603. doi: 10.1093/ijpor/edw027
Available here.

Internet surveys are more convenient for respondents, but also leave them unmonitored by researchers. We find that “cheating” on political knowledge surveys is pervasive using a novel method for detecting when people look up answers to difficult knowledge questions. Cheating on these difficult questions predicts inflated performance on easier questions. Fortunately, we also show that simple changes in question instructions significantly reduce instances of cheating and increase data quality.

Chen, Philip G., Jacob Appleby, Eugene Borgida, Timothy H. Callaghan, Pierce Ekstrom, Christina E. Farhart, Elizabeth Housholder, Hannah Kim, Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz, Howard Lavine, Matthew D. Luttig, Ruchika Mohanty, Aaron Rosenthal, Geoff Sheagley, Brianna A. Smith, Joseph A. Vitriol and Allison Williams. “The Minnesota Multi‐Investigator 2012 Presidential Election Panel Study.” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 14.1 (2014): 78-104. doi: 10.1111/asap.12041

The researchers conducted a multi-wave, multi-investigator online panel survey during the 2012 US presidential election. We discuss the results of three survey-experiments, as well as the methodological challenges and successes of conducting panel research using online survey platforms.

Working papers

When the Worst is Yet to Come: Threat, Perceived Control, and Political Polarization
Smith, Brianna A.

It’s All Under Control: The Conditional Effects of Threat on Political Engagement
Smith, Brianna A.

Foreign Policy and Threat Sensitivity in the 2018 US Election
Kim, Hannah and Brianna A. Smith

Popular Culture Resentment: Media Preference as a Proxy for White Racial Attitudes.
Smith, Brianna A.

Primed for Violence: The Weapons Effect and Racialized Aggression
Smith, Brianna A.

Threat Sensitivity and COVID-19
Kim, Hannah, Brianna A. Smith, and Hui Bai