Political communication is a subfield characterized by a dual interest in (a) the substance, act, and effect of communication, and (b) political psychology and behavior. So much of politics is about communication; and so much of communication is political. Research conducted by members of the Political Communication Working Group (PCWG) sits at this intersection, offering a cross-disciplinary perspective on questions central to understanding politics and political behavior in the context of an ever-shifting media environment.

Core lab members share an interest in our current research theme, Challenges of Communication, i.e., challenges in the process of communicating and understanding political information.  We focus on issues of misinformation, selective exposure and negativity; on biases in news coverage of science and the environment; on polarization of political beliefs, and the impact of social media; and on media influence on issues surrounding race and ethnicity.  Each of these issues has become increasingly relevant and consequential in today’s political-communication media environment.  Our goal is thus to produce research that has both academic and real-world implications. 

Our research reflects a range of social-scientific methods, including lab-experimental, survey, and ‘big-data’ content-analytic techniques. In addition to work that fits squarely in our current research theme, core members have ongoing interests in, for instance, strategic communication, motivating reasoning, political participation and representation, public policy preferences, and survey and research methodology.

We seek to both build our own research agenda, and bring together a broad range of scholars interested in the social-scientific exploration of political communications phenomena.  Towards that end, we organize weekly lab meetings, involving ‘core’ and ‘supporting’ faculty and students.  We also bring guest speakers – prominent scholars in political communication from around the world – to lab meetings, and as part of a widely-advertised series of Political Communication Workshops. Past and upcoming events are available through our Calendar.

Core faculty in the PCWG are in the Department of Communication Studies.  Students and supporting faculty are from Communication Studies, Political Science, Psychology and the Survey Research Center.  Current core faculty projects are supported by the National Science Foundation, the Michigan Institute for Data Science, the University of Michigan Energy Institute, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.  Support for research group meetings and speakers comes from the Department of Communication Studies, the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and from the Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops program.  

If you are interested in work by PCWG members, or in becoming involved in the group, please see links to faculty on the Faculty page.