Jon Green, James N. Druckman, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Katherine Ognyanova, Matthew Simonson, Jennifer Lin, Mauricio Santillana, and Roy H. Perlis. Forthcoming. “Using General Messages to Persuade on a Politicized Scientific Issue.” British Journal of Political Science.

Politics and science have become increasingly intertwined. Salient scientific issues such as climate change, evolution, and stem cell research become politicized, pitting partisans against one another. This creates a challenge of how to effectively communicate on such issues. Recent work emphasizes the need for tailored messages to specific groups. Here, we focus on whether generalized messages also can matter. We do so in the context of a highly polarized issue – extreme COVID-19 vaccine resistance. The results show that science-based, moral frame, and social norm messages move behavioral intentions, and do so by the same amount across the population (i.e., homogenous effects). Counter to common portrayals, the politicization of science does not preclude using broad messages that resonate with the entire population.

bjps_manuscript.pdf bjps_si.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Alauna Safarpour, and Kristin Lunz Trujillo. 8/22/2022. “4 reasons why abortion laws often clash with the majority's preferences in the US, from constitutional design to low voter turnout.” The Conversation. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum, Alauna Safarpour, and Kristin Lunz Trujillo. 7/25/2022. “Kansas vote for abortion rights highlights disconnect between majority opinion on abortion laws and restrictive state laws being passed after Supreme Court decision .” The Conversation. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum, Bryce Jensen Dietrich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Maya Sen. 7/2022. “Sensitive Questions, Spillover Effects, and Asking About Citizenship on the U.S. Census.” Journal of Politics, 84, 3, Pp. 1869-1873. Publisher's Version


Many topics social scientists study are sensitive in nature. Although we know directly asking

about these issues can lead to nonresponse, we know very little about how such questions could potentially influence responses to questions later in the survey. In this study, we use the Trump administration’s proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census to demonstrate how such spillover effects can undermine important survey-based estimates, like the number of Hispanics in the United States. Using a large survey experiment (n = 9,035 respondents), we find that asking about citizenship status significantly increases the percent of questions skipped and makes respondents less likely to report having members of their household wh  are of Hispanic ethnicity. Not only does this demonstrate how sensitive questions can have important downstream effects, but our results also speak to an important public policy debate which will likely arise again in the future.


Matthew A. Baum and Katherine Ognyanov. 5/11/2022. “Americans love conspiracy theories, and that's dangerous for everyone.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Publisher's Version
See also: Op-Eds, Media, Politics
Roy H. Perlis, Katherine Ognyanova, Mauricio Santillana, Jennifer Lin, James N. Druckman, David Lazer, Jon Green, Matthew Simonson, Matthew A. Baum, and John Della Volpe. 1/22/2022. “Association of Major Depressive Symptoms With Endorsement of COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Among US Adults.” JAMA Network Open, 5, 1, Pp. e2145697.45697 . Publisher's Version

Importance  Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccination may contribute substantially to vaccine hesitancy and resistance.

Objective  To determine if depressive symptoms are associated with greater likelihood of believing vaccine-related misinformation.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This survey study analyzed responses from 2 waves of a 50-state nonprobability internet survey conducted between May and July 2021, in which depressive symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item (PHQ-9). Survey respondents were aged 18 and older. Population-reweighted multiple logistic regression was used to examine the association between moderate or greater depressive symptoms and endorsement of at least 1 item of vaccine misinformation, adjusted for sociodemographic features. The association between depressive symptoms in May and June, and new support for misinformation in the following wave was also examined.

Roy H. Perlis, John Green, Matthew Simonson, Katherine Ognyanova, Mauricio Santillana, Jennifer Lin, Alexi Quintana, Hanyu Chwe, James Druckman, David Lazer, Matthew A. Baum, and John Della Volpe. 11/2021. “Association Between Social Media Use and Self-reported Symptoms of Depression in US Adults.” JAMA Network Open, 4, 11. Publisher's Version

Importance  Some studies suggest that social media use is associated with risk for depression, particularly among children and young adults.

Objective  To characterize the association between self-reported use of individual social media platforms and worsening of depressive symptoms among adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This survey study included data from 13 waves of a nonprobability internet survey conducted approximately monthly between May 2020 and May 2021 among individuals aged 18 years and older in the US. Data were analyzed in July and August 2021.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Logistic regression was applied without reweighting, with a 5 point or greater increase in 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) score as outcome and participant sociodemographic features, baseline PHQ-9, and use of each social media platform as independent variables.

Results  In total, 5395 of 8045 individuals (67.1%) with a PHQ-9 score below 5 on initial survey completed a second PHQ-9. These respondents had a mean (SD) age of 55.8 (15.2) years; 3546 respondents (65.7%) identified as female; 329 respondents (6.1%) were Asian, 570 (10.6%) Black, 256 (4.7%) Hispanic, 4118 (76.3%) White, and 122 (2.3%) American Indian or Alaska Native, Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian, or other. Among eligible respondents, 482 (8.9%) reported 5 points or greater worsening of PHQ-9 score at second survey. In fully adjusted models for increase in symptoms, the largest adjusted odds ratio (aOR) associated with social media use was observed for Snapchat (aOR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.19-1.96), Facebook (aOR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.10-1.81), and TikTok (aOR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.03-1.87).

Conclusions and Relevance  Among survey respondents who did not report depressive symptoms initially, social media use was associated with greater likelihood of subsequent increase in depressive symptoms after adjustment for sociodemographic features and news sources. These data cannot elucidate the nature of this association, but suggest the need for further study to understand how social media use may factor into depression among adults.

David Lazer, Jon Green, Katya Ognyanova, Matthew A. Baum, James N. Druckman, Roy H. Perlis, Mauricio Santillana, Matthew Simonson, and Ata Uslu. 7/27/2021. “People are more anti-vaccine if they got their COVID news from Facebook than from Fox News, data shows.” Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Roy Perlis, Katherine Ognyanova, Alexi Quintana, Jon Green, Mauricio Santillana, Jennifer Lin, James Druckman, David Lazer, Matthew Simonson, Matthew Baum, and Hanyu Chwe. 7/12/2021. “Gender‐specificity of resilience in major depressive disorder .” Depression Anxiety, 38, Pp. 1026–10333.Abstract

Introduction: The major stressors associated with the COVID‐19 pandemic provide an opportunity to understand the extent to which protective factors against depression may exhibit gender‐specificity.

Method: This study examined responses from multiple waves of a 50 states non‐ probability internet survey conducted between May 2020 and January 2021. Participants completed the PHQ‐9 as a measure of depression, as well as items characterizing social supports. We used logistic regression models with population reweighting to examine association between absence of even mild depressive symptoms and sociodemographic features and social supports, with interaction terms and stratification used to investigate sex‐specificity.

Results: Among 73,917 survey respondents, 31,199 (42.2%) reported absence of mild or greater depression—11,011/23,682 males (46.5%) and 20,188/50,235 (40.2%) females. In a regression model, features associated with greater likelihood of depression‐resistance included at least weekly attendance of religious services (odds ratio [OR]: 1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04–1.16) and greater trust in others (OR: 1.04 for a 2‐unit increase, 95% CI: 1.02–1.06), along with level of social support measured as number of social ties available who could provide care (OR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.02–1.07), talk to them (OR: 1.10, 95% CI: 1.07–1.12), and help with employment (OR: 1.06, 95% CI: 1.04–1.08). The first two features showed significant interaction with gender (p < .0001), with markedly greater protective effects among women.

Conclusion: Aspects of social support are associated with diminished risk of major depressive symptoms, with greater effects of religious service attendance and trust in others observed among women than men.

Roy Perlis, Mauricio Santellana, Katherine Ognyanova, Jon Green, James Druckman, David Lazer, and Matthew Baum. 6/11/2021. “Factors Associated With Self-reported Symptoms of Depression Among Adults With and Without a Previous COVID-19 Diagnosis.” JAMA Network, 4, 6, Pp. 1-4. Publisher's Version perlis_2021_ld_210131_1623176035.22609.pdf
Roy H. Perlis, Katherine Ognyanova, Mauricio Santillana, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, James Druckman, and John Della Volpe. 3/12/2021. “Association of Acute Symptoms of COVID-19 and Symptoms of Depression in Adults.” JAMA Network Open, 4, 3, Pp. e213223-e213223. Publisher's Version
After acute infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a subset of individuals experience persistent symptoms involving mood, sleep, anxiety, and fatigue, which may contribute to markedly elevated rates of major depressive disorder observed in recent epidemiologic studies. In this study, we investigated whether acute coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms are associated with the probability of subsequent depressive symptoms.
James N. Druckman, Katherine Ognyanova, Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Roy H. Perlis, John Della Volpe, Mauricio Santillana, Hanyu Chwe, Alexi Quintana, and Matthew Simonson. 2021. “The role of race, religion, and partisanship in misperceptions about COVID-19.” Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 24, 4, Pp. 638 - 657.Abstract
Concerns about misperceptions among the public are rampant. Yet, little work explores the correlates of misperceptions in varying contexts – that is, how do factors such as group affiliations, media exposure, and lived experiences correlate with the number of misperceptions people hold? We address these questions by investigating misperceptions about COVID-19, focusing on the role of racial/ethnic, religious, and partisan groups. Using a large survey, we find the number of correct beliefs held by individuals far dwarfs the number of misperceptions. When it comes to misperceptions, we find that minorities, those with high levels of religiosity, and those with strong partisan identities – across parties – hold a substantially greater number of misperceptions than those with contrasting group affiliations. Moreover, we show other variables (e.g., social media usage, number of COVID-19 cases in one’s county) do not have such strong relationships with misperceptions, and the group-level results do not reflect acquiescence to believing any information regardless of its truth value. Our results accentuate the importance of studying group-level misperceptions on other scientific and political issues and developing targeted interventions for these groups.
Roy Perlis, Matthew A. Baum, and Katherine Ognyanova. 11/23/2020. “Glaring Omission from Biden's COVID-19 Task Force: Mental Health Expertise.” STAT. Publisher's Version
David Lazer, Jonathan Green, Matthew A. Baum, Alexi Quintana Mathé, Katherine Ognyanova, Adina Gitomer, James N. Druckman, Matthew Simonson, Hanyu Chwe, Roy H. Perlis, Jennifer Lin, and Mauricio Santillana. 10/21/2020. “These nine swing states will see the biggest ‘blue shift’ as ballots are counted after the election.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum, David Lazer, Alexi Quintana, Roy Perlis, Katherine Ognyanova, James N. Druckman, John Della Volpe, and Mauricio Santillana. 7/20/2020. “How a Public Health Crisis Becomes a Public Trust Crisis.” Real Clear Politics. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum. 6/28/2020. “Trump Still Has Approval Ratings Far Higher than George Bush. Here's Why.” Los Angeles Times. Publisher's Version
See also: Op-Eds, Politics
Irene Pasquetto, Matthew A. Baum, Eaman Jahani, and Alla Baranovsky. 5/27/2020. Understanding Misinformation on Mobile Instant Messengers (MIMs) in Developing Countries. Shorenstein Center. Cambridge: Harvard Kennedy School, Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics and Public Policy. Publisher's Version misinfo-on-mims-shorenstein-center-may-2020.pdf
Matthew A. Baum, Dara Kay Cohen, and Susanne Schwarz. 5/6/2020. “(Sex) Crime and Punishment: How Legally Irrelevant Details Influence Crime Reporting and Sanctioning Decisions.” Political Behavior. Publisher's Version
Recent prominent rape cases have raised concerns that the US exhibits a “culture of rape,” wherein victims are often disbelieved and blamed. We present an empirical conceptualization of rape culture, outlining four key features: blaming victims, empathizing with perpetrators, assuming the victims’ consent, and questioning victims’ credibility. In a series of experimental studies, we evaluate the relative impact of different types of rape culture biases on the reporting of rape, and how it is punished. We test how participants’ exposure to legally irrelevant details related to rape culture affects their decision-making. We find that exposure to certain details—relating to the victim’s consent and credibility—significantly decreasesparticipants’ propensities to recommend a rape case be reported to police or to advocate for a severe punishment for the perpetrator. The same biases do not emerge in robbery cases, suggesting that rape is regarded differently from other violent crimes.
Matthew A. Baum, Katherine Ognyanova, and David Lazer. 4/29/2020. “These Three Governors are Reopening Their States Faster than Their Voters Want: That's What Our Polling Found in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.” The Washington Post Monkey Cage. Publisher's Version
Matthew A. Baum. 3/30/2020. “Trump's Coronavirus Approval Rating: Why its Going Up.” Los Angeles Times. Publisher's Version
See also: Op-Eds, Politics