Hwayong Shin

Next Generation Initiative helps explore public opinion research

September 11, 2023

Contact: Jon Meerdink ([email protected])

ANN ARBOR — In hindsight, Hwayong Shin almost had to end up at the Institute for Social Research.

“I was very interested in ISR even before I started my Ph.D. program here because it had the Center for Political Studies,” she said. “It’s the powerhouse of public opinion studies and it’s the home of many important national surveys, including the American National Election Studies, and that’s where my research interests lie.”

Arriving at ISR in 2016, Shin was the recipient of funds from the Roy Pierce Scholars Fund. Here, she connected with Ted Brader, and the two began a research collaboration, which allowed Shin to begin her graduate study at CPS. With Brader, she conducted research investigating the causes of public emotions as they pertain to the democratic process.

“We conducted experiments that leverage public events such as public transit accidents to identify specific contexts that trigger either fear or anger or both, then track the downstream effects on how people assess related government policies.”

The work on that collaboration coincided with her research interests concerning public opinion, political psychology, and emotions, giving her a good start in her graduate studies. It also led into another project, this one funded by the Philip Converse and Warren Miller Fellowship in American Political Behavior. In this project, Shin collaborated with Christopher Farris, also of CPS, to explore contexts and events that could mitigate partisan polarization.

A final Next Generation award, the Garth Taylor Dissertation Fellowship in Public Opinion, also supported her dissertation, which explores how evidence-based information sources can build credibility in polarized political environments, leveraging data on fact-checking to investigate that question.

Shin’s research work, funded in part by the Next Generation Initiative, has led to her next opportunity: a position as a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth College’s Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences.

“I expect that my research at Dartmouth will focus on studying public perceptions of democratic norms and institutions, and also public assessments of energy supply policies. I will also contribute to establishing a survey research platform at Dartmouth, an initiative inspired by ISR’s data and research infrastructure,” she said.

But in addition to her skills, Shin says she’ll carry a mindset from ISR into her next role.

 “I wish to be a researcher who conducts research that benefits society and a teacher who helps students achieve their goals, just like many faculty members I’ve met here at ISR,” Shin said. “ISR’s mission – ‘social science in the public interest’ – will continue to motivate me and remind me of what values I seek to produce with my research.”

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