Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 5:00pm
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Fong Auditorium, Boylston Hall, 5 Harvard Yard, Cambridge

Special Seminar with Jon Krosnick

Jon Krosnick, Professor of Communication, Political Science, and Psychology, Stanford University, on “American Public Opinion on Climate Change: Motivated Cognition?” Dustin Tingley, the Paul Sack Associate Professor of Political Economy in the Dept. of Government, will moderate the discussion.

Jon Krosnick is a social psychologist who does research on attitude formation, change, and effects, on the psychology of political behavior, and on survey research methods. He is the Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor of Communication, Political Science, and (by courtesy) Psychology. At Stanford, in addition to his professorships, he directs the Political Psychology Research Group and the Summer Institute in Political Psychology.

Research Interests

Author of four books and more than 140 articles and chapters, Dr. Krosnick conducts research in three primary areas: (1) attitude formation, change, and effects, (2) the psychology of political behavior, and (3) the optimal design of questionnaires used for laboratory experiments and surveys, and survey research methodology more generally.

His attitude research has focused primarily on the notion of attitude strength, seeking to differentiate attitudes that are firmly crystallized and powerfully influential of thinking and action from attitudes that are flexible and inconsequential. Many of his studies in this area have focused on the amount of personal importance that an individual chooses to attach to an attitude.  Dr. Krosnick’s studies have illuminated the origins of attitude importance (e.g., material self-interest and values) and the cognitive and behavioral consequences of importance in regulating attitude impact and attitude change processes.

Among the topics explored by Dr. Krosnick’s political psychology research are: how policy debates affect voters’ candidate preferences, how the news media shape which national problems citizens think are most important for the nation and shape how citizens evaluate the President’s job performance, how becoming very knowledgeable about and emotionally invested in a government policy issue (such as abortion or gun control) affects people’s political thinking and participation, how people’s political views change as they move through the life-cycle from early adulthood to old age, and how the order of candidates’ names on the ballot affect voting behavior.

For fifteen years, Professor Krosnick has been conducting survey research on the American public’s views of global warming. Many of his papers and public presentations on the topic can be seen on his website at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford, which has provided support for much of his recent work on this topic.

His questionnaire design work has illuminated the cognitive and social processes that unfold between researcher and respondent when the latter are asked to answer questions, and his on-going review of 100 years worth of scholarly research on the topic has yielded a set of guidelines for the optimal design of questionnaires to maximize reliability and validity. His recent work in survey methodology has explored the impact of mode of data collection (e.g., face-to-face, telephone, Internet) on response accuracy and the impact of survey response rates on substantive results.


Dr. Krosnick’s scholarship has been recognized by election as a fellow by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Erik Erikson Early Career Award for Excellence and Creativity in the Field of Political Psychology from the International Society of Political Psychology, a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Phillip Brickman Memorial Prize for Research in Social Psychology, the American Political Science Association’s Best Paper Award, the American Association for Public Opinion Research Student Paper Award, the Midwest Political Science Association’s Pi Sigma Alpha Award, and the University of Wisconsin’s Brittingham Visiting Scholar Position.

Contact Name: 

Lisa Matthews

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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