Research

Working Papers

"Leader Denial and Backlash to Naming and Shaming: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in the Philippines"

How do public denials in response to accusations of human rights abuses affect public opinion within countries targeted by international criticism? I develop a theory of public responses to denial by incorporating insights from social psychology, including self-categorization theory and social identity theory. My theory predicts that denial will generate a backlash effect -- increasing support for the leader, while reducing support for international cooperation -- when the national identity is highly salient or when the leader is broadly popular. I test observable implications from my theory using a novel between-subjects, vignette survey experiment in the Philippines. I find that the leader's denial does not meaningfully change public opinion in response to criticism from the United States, and that this result is not moderated individual-level differences in social identity.  I attribute this null result to the long history of bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines. The results of this study suggest strong scope conditions on when leaders will be able to alter public opinion in response to shaming. They also suggest that allies can shaming suspected human rights abuses without suffering strategic costs in some circumstances.

"Democratization and International Conflict" 

How do transitions to democracy affect international conflict? Past results examining the association between democratization and international conflict are mixed. Some prior studies find a positive association, some a negative association, and still some others find no meaningful association at all. I examine a novel counterfactual: what is the effect of transitioning to democracy, compared to remaining an autocracy? I develop a theory that focuses on the timing of institutional, economic, and social changes within the country that transitions to democracy. In contrast to some influential prior studies, I argue that democratic transitions are unlikely to increase a country's propensity to engage in conflict. Rather, I argue that transitions to democracy are likely to decrease conflict or have no meaningful effect on conflict. I test these expectations using a time-series cross-sectional matching and difference-in-differences research design to improve the credibility of causal inference. I find that transitions to democracy do not increase conflict, and that countries that transition to democracy possess robust domestic institutions prior to transitioning. 

"The Legacy of Slavery and Group Attitudes Towards International Conflict" 

How does the legacy of violent political and economic institutions shape international cooperation? Building on a growing area of research examining the long-term effects of political violence, I argue that a strong legacy of political violence is likely to reduce international security cooperation. I examine this hypothesis using the case of US security cooperation with the UN, and the legacy of slavery in the US South. I find that Southern whites in places with a stronger legacy of slavery are substantially less likely to support security cooperation with the UN, across a variety of model specifications and identification strategies. I explore multiple potential mechanisms including sovereignty concerns, modern-day partisanship, racial resentment, economic underdevelopment, and isolationism. 


Ongoing Projects

"Past Actions and Interstate Conflict" (co-authored with Mark Souva

"Counterfactuals and Inference with Panel Data" 

"Regression Adjustment in Survey Experiments: A Practical Perspective" (co-authored with Carlisle Rainey and Winston Lin)

"Regime Transitions and Support for Alliance Commitments" (co-authored with Casey Frock)

"Denial and Support for Humanitarian Interventions"