Justin de Benedictis-Kessner
I study American politics, with a focus on political behavior, public policy, urban politics, and experimental and quantitative methodology. I'm currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Boston Area Research Initiative at Northeastern University and Harvard University. My research examines how citizens hold government accountable, and how both psychology and electoral institutions can subvert their ability to do so. I address this question by applying creative data on local politics – a level of government that people interact with on a daily basis, and one that constitutes the vast majority of elected officials and elections in the United States. Methodologically, my work blends several approaches. I gather large-scale elections data, partner with governments and service providers to conduct original surveys, and use modern causal research designs that test my theories. Many of these techniques harness the powerful computing resources from IQSS. My findings indicate that people’s psychological biases, the institutions that shape elections, and government communication can affect whether people rationally punish and reward governments for performance. In turn, the policies that create these responsibilities and institutions have the power to greatly help or hinder democratic accountability.