We congratulate all the winners of awards at the 2022 meeting of APSA’s Experimental Research Section!  Please find the prize winners below, together with the prize citations and award committees.

Best Dissertation Defended in 2021

3 co-winners:

  • Natalia Garbiras Díaz (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley).  Citation: “Natalia Garbiras-Díaz is recognized for her dissertation `Paving the way for the rise of outsiders: Candidate and voter behavior in an era of political disillusionment.’ The primary experimental chapter of Garbiras-Díaz’s dissertation is set in the 2019 Colombian mayoral elections and asks whether outsourcing election monitoring to citizens themselves, rather than relying on costly official election observers, can be effective in combating election irregularities. To do so, Garbiras-Díaz and her coauthor launched a large-scale online advertising campaign, randomizing a sample of municipalities to receive or not to receive Facebook ads that incentivized citizen reporting of electoral irregularities. To also study the candidates’ response to learning about this campaign, they crossed the intervention with a second treatment arm, in which mayoral candidates in selected municipalities received a letter informing them of the reporting campaign or not. They find that the campaign significantly increased reporting of electoral irregularities, as well as the quality of the complaints, and that it reduced electoral irregularities based on third-party investigations. Perhaps most encouraging, they also find that the ads and the associated campaign decreased the vote share of the candidates who historically have been most dependent on irregularities. This is an impressive, well-executed experiment with a series of novel outcome measures. It also has important practical implications for cost-effective strategies for reducing electoral irregularities. This experiment is now forthcoming at the American Economic Review.”
  • Erin Rossiter (Ph.D., Washington University at St. Louis). Citation: “Erin Rossiter is recognized for her dissertation “Three Papers on Interpersonal Communication.” The dissertation describes two experiments to study the consequences of interparty conversation–between Democrats and Republicans–on out-party affect and trait stereotypes. To implement the experiment, Rossiter designed software where participants could have real-time, written chats online. This software allows her to study participants’ interactions outside an existing laboratory. The experiments assigned participants to (i) out-party contact versus no out-party contact and (ii) discussion (or reflection on) political versus non-political topics. She finds that interparty conversation on both political and non-political topics reduces participants’ assessments of negative out-party traits and increases participants’ assessments of positive out-party traits. In sum, the paper shows that interparty conversation—whether political or non-political—can improve assessments of partisan outgroups. These experiments are carefully and creatively implemented. In implementing these designs, Rossiter develops an algorithm for blocked cluster randomization when clusters are created “on the fly” by researchers, as is the case in the conversations she studies. Because many of these experiments are (comparatively) small, blocking offers improved balance and efficiency gains. Another dissertation paper details the algorithm and shows its utility through simulation and application to existing studies. This method is likely to be of use to researchers in future research on interpersonal communication. In sum, this dissertation advances our understanding of interpersonal political communication and gives us better tools through which to study it.”
  • Anna Wilke (Ph.D., Columbia University)

    Anna Wilke is recognized for her dissertation, “Essays on the Politics of Maintaining Order.” The primary experimental chapter reports on an ambitious field experiment on the ways in which state capacity shapes how citizens decide whether to seek justice through state institutions or via extrajudicial mob justice. The experiment aims to make some citizens more “legible” to the state, increasing state capacity to provide public safety services. Wilke partnered with a local community organization and the South African police to equip 100 randomly-assigned households with an alarm system that directly linked them to the police and, importantly, made it possible for officers to easily find the home. 150 households were assigned to a control condition without the alarm systems. The chapter reports on the effects of increased legibility on willingness to rely on the police, rather than extrajudicial vigilantism. Among a preregistered subset of households with low baseline trust in the police, the intervention also decreased willingness to rely on vigilantism. The experiment is one of few to directly increase a dimension of state capacity in a realistic field setting. In addition to the field experiment, Wilke employed a survey mechanism experiment in the endline survey, an exercise carefully designed based on a simple formal model. Together, the chapter is impressive not only in the scale and realism of the experiment, but more so in how carefully it is designed to test a theory of venue choice between formal and informal justice systems.

Award committee:

Graeme Blair (UCLA, chair) –

Josh Kalla (Yale) –

Tara Slough (NYU) –

Best Paper Presented at APSA in 2021

Winner: Nicholas Haas and Emmy Lindstam, “My History or Our History? Historical Revisionism and Enticement to Lead.”

Citation: “The committee enthusiastically recommends that the 2022 APSA Experiments Section Best Paper Award be awarded to Nicholas Haas and Emmy Lindstam for their paper ‘My History or Our History? Historical Revisionism and Enticement to Lead.’ Haas and Lindstam’s paper addresses a critical and timely question in political science: how do particular representations of a nation’s history affect the extent to which marginalized groups identify with, feel incorporated into, and seek positions of power within ‘the nation?’ Hass and Lindstam hypothesize that exclusionary historical representations of marginalized communities diminish their perceived claim to the nation and their sense of empowerment to speak on its behalf. This is a broad, ambitious topic that might not seem easily amenable to experimentation. But Haas and Lindstam address it with a highly innovative survey experiment in India. Survey experiments are, of course, stylized. Haas and Lindstam clearly recognize this, and their research design exudes originality, rigor, and careful attention to the connections between the experimental setup and the broad real-world problems that their study addresses. Their interpretation of their results is careful and measured, with plausible but appropriately caveated discussions of the findings that don’t conform to their expectations. We commend the authors on a job well done. This paper will make a serious contribution to our understanding of the way national identity is constituted, and the way marginalized groups fit into it.”

Award committee:

Robert Blair (Brown, chair) –

Mathias Poertner (LSE) –

Kris-Stella Trump (Memphis) –

Best Book Published in 2021


  • James Druckman and Donald P. Green, Advances in Experimental Political Science. Citation: “This book provides nuanced discussions and best practice guides on how to use experiments to answer social science questions of theoretical importance and practical interest. In this essential and wide-ranging reading, Druckman and Green have assembled leading scholars to reflect on new opportunities and challenges for experimental research in political science and beyond. This volume will be immensely helpful to social science scholars and practitioners to design and conduct experiments effectively and thoughtfully.”
  • Cigdem Sirin, Nicholas Valentino, and Jose Villalobos, Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy. Citation: “Sirin, Valentino, and Villalobos develop a theory of group empathy—the ability and motivation to care about members of outgroups.  The authors carefully construct and test a new measure of the central concept, the Group Empathy Index, which consists of cognitive and affective elements (extant), catalyzed by the motivation to care (novel).  They then examine the new concept in seven nationally representative studies as well as a number of smaller studies, employing survey experiments on the topics of discrimination in airport security, maltreatment in immigrant detention, and humanitarian intervention against repressive authoritarian governments.  The experiments are carefully carried out and demonstrate that group empathy shapes how people think about policies that might help outgroup members in distress. Importantly, while group empathy is a key driver of policy attitudes across the board, members of minority groups are substantially more likely to extend it.  Altogether, the authors demonstrate that group empathy matters for public opinion about immigration, humanitarian intervention, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, environmental disaster relief, terrorism, welfare, Brexit (in the UK), and foreign aid policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Seeing Us in Them shows that empathy for outgroups is a powerful concept that carries the potential for improving our understanding of public opinion broadly.”

Award committee:

Ana Bracic (Michigan State) –

Yue Hou (Penn) –

Three awards for papers in the Journal of Experimental Political Science (JEPS):

2021 Rebecca Morton Award (for best article published Journal of Experimental Political Science)

Winner: Donghyun Danny Choi, Mathias Poertner, and Nicholas Sambanis, “Linguistic Assimilation Does Not Reduce Discrimination Against Immigrants: Evidence from Germany” (JEPS volume 8.3)

Citation: “Choi, Poertner, and Sambanis conducted a clever and innovative large-scale field experiment in 30 cities across Germany to test the thesis that linguistic assimilation — in this case, ‘speaking German’ — would reduce discrimination toward Muslim immigrants. Previous research suggests that when natives view immigrants speaking a different language from their host country, they view it as an unwillingness to assimilate into the culture and, in turn, stokes prejudice and discrimination toward immigrants. These findings imply that linguistic assimilation would reduce acts of discrimination toward immigrants, but does it? Their field experiment answers this question using a clever design: A woman stands on a busy train platform and has a phone conversation in German, Arabic, or Turkish. The woman was either a native German, an immigrant wearing a hijab, or an immigrant dressed in a secular fashion. After the conversation, fruit spills out from her bag. The experimenters unobtrusively observed and recorded how many people helped her. Contrary to expectations, linguistic assimilation did not reduce discrimination. Bystanders helped the immigrant wearing secular clothes at the same rate as the native German, whether she spoke in German or a foreign language. Meanwhile, they were considerably less likely to help the immigrant wearing a hijab, even if she spoke German fluently. These important findings suggest that, at least in the German context, physical displays of being culturally different matter more than linguistic displays. Creative research such as this demonstrates the power that experimental methods to uncover the unexpected.”

Best Paper based on a Pre-Analysis Plan published in JEPS in 2021

Winner: James N Druckman, Samara Klar, Yanna Krupnikov, Matthew Levendusky, and John Barry Ryan, “How Affective Polarization Shapes Americans’ Political Beliefs: A Study of Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” (JEPS volume 8.3)

Citation: “Druckman and colleagues leverage a unique dataset and a unique historical moment to shed new light on the relationship between affective polarization and policy beliefs, breaking the endogenity problem that makes observational work on this topic challenging for causal inference. Capitalizing on an existing subject pool that predates the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors demonstrate that higher levels of affective polarization before the emergence of the pandemic causes politicized attitudes about ostensibly neutral targets related to the pandemic. In a clearly argued and well theorized paper, the authors conduct a cleanly designed and straightforward wording experiment that demonstrates that partisan animus–but not partisanship as a social identity–shapes people’s policy-relevant beliefs. The findings of the paper have major implications for political communication and persuasion in an era where novel issues can become quickly politicized.”

Best Replication in JEPS in 2021

Winner: Jared McDonald and James Igoe Walsh, “The Costs of Conflict and Support for the Use of Force: Accounting for Information Equivalence in Survey Experiments” (JEPS volume 8.2)

Citation: “In ‘The Costs of Conflict and Support for the Use of Force,’ authors Jared McDonald and James Igoe Walsh replicate and extend previous public opinion studies of Americans’ support for military action. Both scholars and public commentators have wondered whether new technologies such as drones will make it too easy for political leaders to use force overseas because they are perceived as less dangerous. Supporting their intuition, previous experiments have established that the American public is more likely to support uses of force when attacks are carried out by drones (as opposed to, for example, ground troops). However, McDonald and Walsh suspected that the reason for these findings is not due to differences in the perceived costs of various technologies, but instead due to differences in the perceived situations in which those technologies are used. This is a problem of ‘information equivalence.’ To address it, McDonald and Walsh conducted three new survey experiments that replicated a previous design with a key innovation: the choice of which military technology to use is described as a ‘random consequence of the weather.’ They do not find significant differences in support for using force depending on the type of military technology. This is an excellent example of using replications to advance our understanding of a topic of importance both for theory and public debate.”

Committee for the three JEPS awards:

Kevin (Vin) Arceneaux (Sciences Po-Paris, chair) –

Sarah Bush (Yale) –

Jaime Settle (William & Mary) –

Best Public Service in 2021 (prize given for promotion of research partnerships that foster experimental research)

Winner: Arianna Legovini (Director, Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) department at the World Bank)

Citation (read by Daniel Rubenson):

“Many of us in this meeting and the section and the discipline as a whole rely on collaborations with partners at government and nongovernment organizations in order to carry out our research. We are too often unaware of or don’t appreciate the amount of work that those partners put in to help our research — in many cases with no immediate or material payoff for them. They do it because they share our intellectual curiosity and we are very grateful for their collaboration. 

“The public service award goes to `someone who has furthered knowledge from experimental research, usually by promoting or inducing research partnerships between academics and practitioners or contributing to the relationship between the findings of experimental research and public policy.’ This year the committee is very pleased to give the award to Arianna Legovini, Director of the Development Impact Evaluation department (DIME) at the World Bank. Arianna’s work with DIME fits this description perfectly and we cannot imagine a more worthy recipient.

“On behalf of the rest of the awards committee (Professor Ana de la O and Dr David Yokum) as well the section chair, Professor Thad Dunning, I want to thank Arianna for her tremendous work in promoting experimental research and rigorous impact evaluation and in transforming the evidence from that work into policy action.”


David Yokum (The Policy Lab, Brown) –

Ana de la O (Yale) –

Daniel Rubenson (Ryerson) —

Past winners include:
    • Rebecca Morton Award for Best JEPS Article (before 2020, “Best JEPS Article”)
      • 2020- Florian Foos and Fabrizio Dilardi, “Does Exposure to Gender Role Models Increase Women’s Political Ambition? A Field Experiment with Politicians”
      • 2019 –Yue Hou, Kai Quek, – “Violence Exposure and Support for State Use of Force in a Non-Democracy”

    • Award for Best Dissertation
      • 2020 – Tara Slough, “Essays on the Distributive Politics of Bureaucracy”
      • 2019 – Kyle Peyton, –“Experiments on Legitimacy and Intergroup Relations: Policing, Trust, and Prejudice in the United States” 
      • 2018 – Adam Zelizer – Legislating While Learning: How Staff Briefings, Cue-Taking, and Deliberation Help Legislators Take Policy Positions
      • 2017 – Saad Gulzar – Essays on the Political Economy of Development in South Asia
      • 2017 – Pia RafflerInformation, Accountability, and Elite Political Behavior
      • 2016 – Alex Coppock – Positive, Small, Homogenous, and Durable: Political Persuasion in Response to Political Information 
      • 2015 – Eun Bin ChungOvercoming the History Problem – Group Affirmation in International Relations
      • 2014 – Meredith SadinA Wealth of Ambivalence: How Stereotypes About The Rich Matter For Political Attitudes and Candidate Choice
      • 2012 – Dan MyersInformation Use in Small Group Deliberation