Justin de Benedictis-KessnerI study American politics, with a focus on political behavior, public policy, urban politics, and experimental and quantitative methodology.

I'm currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Boston Area Research Initiative at Harvard University and Northeastern University.

My research examines how citizens hold government accountable, and how psychology, electoral institutions, and political communication can subvert their ability to do so. I address this question by applying creative data on local politics – a level of government that people interact with on a daily basis, and one that constitutes the vast majority of elected officials and elections in the United States. Methodologically, my work blends several approaches. I gather original large-scale elections and communications data, partner with governments and service providers to conduct original surveys, and use modern causal research designs that test my theories. My findings indicate that people’s psychological biases, the institutions that shape elections, and government communication can all affect whether people rationally punish and reward governments for performance. In turn, the policies that create these responsibilities and institutions have the power to greatly help or hinder democratic accountability.

My work has received the Norton Long Young Scholar Award from the APSA Urban Politics Section and has been supported by funding from the Boston Area Research Initiative. I received my PhD from the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and my B.A. in Government and Psychology from the College of William & Mary.