Investigating the power of group think

By Leda Zimmerman

While many people might find it difficult, if not downright distasteful, to dive into 1.5 million hours of partisan talk radio, Clara Vandeweerdt found it thrilling.

“Honestly, it’s been one of the most fun things I've had to do in my PhD career,” says Vandeweerdt, a native of Belgium who is in her final year of doctoral studies in political science. “Hearing two points of view on different issues, I’ve gotten to know a side of the U.S. I was unfamiliar with, and it’s been really interesting.”

Vandeweerdt has been analyzing more than a year's worth of talk radio as part of a research agenda focused on political behavior and the various forces that might shape it. Her doctoral research depends on novel data sets and quantitative methods to investigate the impact of social identity and affiliation on political beliefs.

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