Publications

Working Paper
Alauna Safarpour. Working Paper. “EPR: A Theory of Prejudice Reduction and Support for Racial Policies”.Abstract

This paper develops Engagement, Perspective-Taking, and Recalibration (EPR), a theory of prejudice reduction and support for racial policies. I argue that interventions using engagement to encourage perspective-taking reduce prejudice and recalibrate the subject’s emotional orientation toward an out-group. Using EPR, I develop an intervention to reduce prejudice toward African Americans and increase support for racial equity policies. The intervention encourages individuals to adopt the perspective of a Black man who experiences prejudice and make choices how to respond. Using an experiment in which 1,261 adults completed either the treatment or a placebo task, I find that the intervention significantly reduces prejudice, with the largest effects among those with the highest baseline animus. Reducing prejudice increases support for policies aimed at helping Black people. These results provide insight into the nature of prejudice and its impact on racial policies, and offers a low-cost intervention to increase tolerance.

safarpour_epr_non_anonymized_version_033122.pdf
2022
Robin Bayes, James Druckman, and Alauna Safarpour. 3/2022. “Studying Science Inequities: How to Use Surveys to Study Diverse Populations.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 700, 1, Pp. 220-233. Preprint VersionAbstract
Inequities in science have long been documented in the United States. Particular groups such as low income, non-White people, and indigenous people fare worse when it comes to healthcare, infectious diseases, climate change, and access to technology. These types of inequities can be partially addressed with targeted interventions aimed at facilitating access to scientific information. Doing so requires knowledge about what different groups think when it comes to relevant scientific topics. Yet, most data collections on science-based issues do not include enough respondents from these populations. We discuss this gap and offer an overview of pertinent sampling and administrative considerations in studying underserved populations. A sustained effort to study diverse populations can help address extant inequities.
Alauna Safarpour and Michael Hanmer. 2022. “Information about Coronavirus Exposure Affects Attitudes Towards Voting Methods.” Journal of Experimental Political Science, 9, 1, Pp. 147-151.Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered all aspects of life, including the creation of trade-offs between the right to vote and health. While many states postponed primary elec- tions, Wisconsin forged ahead with their April 7, 2020 primaries. The result was widely criticized, with health officials raising concerns about the spread of COVID-19 through in-person voting. We argue that concerns from Wisconsin health officials about the potential to contract COVID-19 via in-person voting can shift American’s comfort with using various voting methods in November. We test our hypotheses using a survey experiment on a diverse national sample. We find that information about possible coronavirus exposures decreases comfort with voting in-person yet does not increase comfort with voting by mail. We discuss the implications, including the need to tailor messages to specific features of various methods of voting in order to increase citizens’ comfort with voting in upcoming elections.

safarpour_hanmer_2020_information-about-coronavirus-exposure-effects-attitudes-towards-voting-methods.pdf
Lisa Bryant, Michael Hanmer, Alauna Safarpour, and Jared McDonald. 2022. “The Power of the State: How Postcards from the State Increased Registration and Turnout in Pennsylvania.” Political Behavior, 44, Pp. 535-549. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Unlike citizens in nearly all other democracies, most U.S. citizens bear the respon- sibility for registering to vote. We test whether states can help citizens overcome the barriers to registration and turnout using a simple postcard. To do this, we leverage a new program that brings states together to improve the quality of their voter reg- istration rolls and generate lists of eligible but unregistered citizens. Using a unique list of eligible but unregistered citizens from the Pennsylvania Department of Trans- portation, we partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Office to con- duct a large-scale voter registration field experiment prior to the 2016 election. We provide new tests of traditional theories related to lowering the costs of registration as well as new theories related to promoting government responsiveness. We find that contact in the form of a single postcard from the Department of State led to a one percentage point increase in registration and a 0.9-point increase in turnout, regardless of the content of the postcard. Registration effects were strongest among young, first-time voters. Importantly, new registrants voted at a rate far exceeding rates found in previous registration drives.

bryantetal2020_article_thepowerofthestatehowpostcards.pdf
Alauna Safarpour, SoRelle Wyckoff Gaynor, Stella Rouse, and Michele Swers. 2022. “When Women Run, Voters Will Follow (Sometimes): Examining the Mobilizing Effect of Female Candidates in the 2014 and 2018 Midterm Elections.” Political Behavior. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this paper, we examine whether women candidates are more likely to spur turnout in election years when gender-related issues are central to the national debate. We argue that having women on the ballot in a gendered electoral environment mobilizes specific groups of voters. Utilizing voter files in Pennsylvania and Washington for 2014 and the more gender focused 2018 election, we evaluate this potential mobilizing effect in both primary and general midterm elections. Our results show that both female and male voters were more likely to turn out in the 2018 midterm elections when a woman was on the ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives. In Pennsylvania, which tracks registrants’ party affiliation, Democrats, members of third parties, and independents were particularly impacted by the presence of a female candidate. Moreover, in both states, a woman on the ballot was especially important for young people, a group that is traditionally less engaged. Utilizing a difference-in-difference approach, we confirm these results are not due to the endogenous selection of where women choose to run. These findings demonstrate that the mobilizing effect of women candidates is dependent on political context.

safarpour_gaynor_rouse_swers_2021_when_women_run.pdf
2021
Samantha Artiga, Liz Hamel, Audrey Kearney, Mellisha Stokes, and Alauna Safarpour. 7/14/2021. Health and Health Care Experiences of Hispanic Adults.. Kaiser Family Foundation. Publisher's Version
Liz Hamel, Samantha Artiga, Alauna Safarpour, Mellisha Stokes, and Mollyann Brodie. 5/13/2021. KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: COVID-19 Vaccine Access, Information, and Experiences Among HispanicAdults in the U.S.. Kaiser Family Foundation. Publisher's Version
Liz Hamel, Alauna Safarpour, Mellisha Stokes, and Mollyann Brodie. 4/13/2021. KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: Vaccine Attitudes Among Essential Workers. Kaiser Family Foundation. Publisher's Version
Alauna Safarpour. 2021. “Taking Perspective: A Theory of Prejudice Reduction and Political Attitudes.” University of Maryland, Department of Government and Politics. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This dissertation develops and tests Engagement, Perspective-Taking, and Re-calibration (EPR), a theory of how to reduce prejudice and its consequences on political attitudes. I theorize that an intervention that uses engagement to encourage perspective-taking reduces prejudice and re-calibrates the subject’s attribution of blame for America’s racial problems. This last step, “re-calibration,” shifts the target of blame from out-group members to the forces of racism and discrimination which alters political attitudes rooted in prejudice. I employ my theory of EPR to develop interventions to reduce anti-Black prejudice among U.S. citizens using online perspective-taking tasks. The interventions encourage participants to adopt the perspective of an African American individual who experiences racial prejudice and make choices regarding how to respond to the bias they encounter. Interventions designed according to EPR theory were evaluated in three randomized experiments in which participants completed either the perspective-taking treatment or a placebo task. I find that participation in the perspective-taking task significantly reduces multiple forms of racial prejudice including racial resentment, negative affect, and belief in anti-Black stereotypes. The largest effects were among those with the highest levels of baseline prejudice. These studies also show that reducing prejudice increases support for policies that would help African Americans, including government assistance to Blacks, additional changes to ensure racial equality, affirmative action, and reparations for slavery. Similarly, reducing prejudice increases support for the belief that Blacks are not treated fairly in American society, increases support for policing reforms, and increases support for the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence. My results demonstrate that a substantial amount of opposition to racial policies is rooted in racial animus. But neither animus nor opposition to racial policies are immutable, reducing prejudice through my technique increases support for policies to redress racial inequities. This dissertation offers two empirically evaluated interventions that may be used as low-cost bias reduction trainings to combat the rising hate-related incidents in the United States. More broadly, my results provide insight into the nature of racial prejudice and its impact on political attitudes.
2020
David Weigel, Scott Clement, Emily Guskin, Kevin Uhrmacher, Ann Gerhart, Claudia Deane, Alauna Safarpour, and Jocelyn Kiley. 11/4/2020. “Exit poll results and analysis for the 2020 presidential election.” The Washington Post. Publisher's Version
Gregory Schneider, Laura Vozzella, Emily Guskin, and Alauna Safarpour. 10/23/2020. “Post-Schar School poll: Majority of Virginia voters approve of Northam’s job performance.” The Washington Post. Publisher's Version
Lenny Bernstein and Alauna Safarpour. 5/20/2020. “Mask shortage for most health-care workers extended into May, Post-Ipsos poll shows.” The Washington Post. Publisher's Version
Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell, and Alauna Safarpour. 4/29/2020. “Most Americans are not willing or able to use an app tracking coronavirus infections. That’s a problem for Big Tech’s plan to slow the pandemic.” The Washington Post. Publisher's Version