Research Statement

Working Papers

Does News Coverage of Hate-motivated Mass Shootings Generate More Hatred? (Job Market Paper)

Abstract: This paper investigates the role that the media play in promoting hatred through the news coverage of mass shootings. I first show through observational data that the media treat mass shootings differently depending on the motive behind the shooting. Any time a shooting targets a specific ethnicity/race/religion/gender, i.e., the shooting is hate-motivated, its news coverage differs in two respects: 1) higher coverage; 2) more focus on the shooter. I then show that there is more public interest in hate-motivated mass shootings, based on online searching behavior. Finally, I provide suggestive evidence that, immediately following a hate-motivated mass shooting, there is an increase in the number of hate crimes against the same victimized group. Based on these findings and the existing literature, I hypothesize that the way hate-motivated mass shootings are covered in the news contributes to spreading hatred. I test my hypotheses by conducting an online information provision experiment where I manipulate how a real past mass shooting targeting immigrants is reported in the news. In particular, I examine how, in the United States, Democrats and Republicans, who have different ex-ante views about immigration, react to news coverage that emphasizes the hate ideology or the identity and personal background of the shooter. Results from the experiment show that receiving details about the shooter's hate ideology increases Republicans' support for the shooter. Emphasis on the shooter's identity and background increases Democrats' support for both the shooter and the shooter's hate ideology. The latter finding is driven by the more right-leaning individuals within the Democrat sample.

Can Social Media Rhetoric Incite Hate Incidents? Evidence from Trump’s “Chinese Virus” Tweets (with Jason Lindo, and Jiee Zhong), Revise & Resubmit, Journal of Urban Economics

Abstract: We investigate whether Donald Trump's "Chinese Virus" tweets contributed to the rise of anti-Asian incidents. We find that the number of incidents spiked following Trump’s initial “Chinese Virus” tweets and the subsequent dramatic rise in internet search activity for the phrase. Difference-in-differences and event-study analyses leveraging spatial variation indicates that this spike in anti-Asian incidents was significantly more pronounced in counties that supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election relative to those that supported Hillary Clinton. We estimate that anti-Asian incidents spiked by 4000 percentage points in Trump-supporting counties, over and above the spike observed in Clinton-supporting counties.

Work in Progress

Cancel Culture: an Experimental Study of its Causes and its Impacts. [In progress]

Who Self-selects into Committees: the Pro-social or the Corrupt? (with Dmitry Ryvkin and Danila Serra). [In the lab] [Slides]

Abstract: Committees for the management and redistribution of public resources are common in a variety of settings, ranging from Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs), to Parent-Teacher Organizations to government councils. Why do (some) individuals self-select into these committees, and what predicts their behaviors once they become committee members? Being a member of a committee is costly but necessary for the provision of public goods. Pro-social, intrinsically motivated individuals may therefore be more likely to self-select into committees. However, since there is little oversight and transparency over committee expenditures, making it relatively easy to embezzle funds, committees could also attract the most dishonest individuals. We employ a laboratory experiment to test whether and to what extent individuals’ decision to join a committee in charge of public funds depends on their type (honest vs. dishonest, and pro-social vs. self-interested), and their subjective beliefs of how (dis)honest the existing committee members are. We also test whether mechanisms that resemble town hall meetings and require committee members to communicate their decisions to the public affect both corruption decision-making and self-selection into committees.

How important are climate, inclusion and wage potential to college major choice? (with Marco Castillo, Ragan Petrie, and Sora Youn) [Draft coming soon]

Abstract: We investigate whether students value teaching quality and inclusive climate of colleges. Using an online preference survey, we collect major-specific beliefs on expected earnings, teaching quality and inclusive climate. Before we ask the same set of questions, students are randomly assigned to treatment conditions where they receive the true information on earnings, teaching quality and climate. This allows us to measure the causal effect of these particular pieces of information. Our results show that on average, students are willing to forgo $25,000 of their future annual income for non-pecuniary benefits in college. We also find that teaching quality plays an important role in college major choice. An 1% increase in the subjective probability that a major category offers good quality teaching increases students' probabilities of choosing that major category by as much as 0.64%. Our results provide new explanations for sorting into major fields.

Cooperation, Emotions, and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments: A Biometrical Investigation (with Catherine Eckel, Jinliang Liu, Phatchaya Piriyathanasak, Samuel Priestley, Nanyin Yang, Sora Youn). [Writing] [Slides]

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that punishment opportunities can effectively reduce free riding in the public goods production. By varying the timing of punishment in a public good game, we design two distinct punishment rules, “pre” punishment and “post” punishment, which are involved with different levels of emotional arousal. We employ biometric measures (eye trackers and skin conductance response) in the experiment to capture the psychological process, which will shed light on the psychological process mediating punishment behavior, the response to punishment, and their impact on cooperative behavior. Our results show that consistent with previous findings, introducing punishment opportunities increases contributions and reduces free riding. And participants’ biological arousal is higher after introducing punishment opportunities. This study provides useful suggestions for policy makers and managers for designing proper penalty rules to increase cooperation, and will also contribute to the public good game literature by uncovering the psychological process underlying punishment institutions.