Two CDDRL honors students will present their theses at this week's CDDRL Research Seminar on Wednesday, June 5, from 12-1:30pm.
Sophia Pink's thesis, "Think like a Scientist: Interventions to Reduce Politically Motivated Reasoning" will receive the CDDRL Award for Outstanding Thesis 2019
Hometown: Washington, DC
Major: Product Design
Thesis Advisor: Robb Willer
Thesis Title: Think like a Scientist: Interventions to Reduce Politically Motivated Reasoning
Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law? When we are faced with information about political issues, our ability to reason is easily hijacked by our biases. We often have a conclusion in mind and use the information to justify our pre-existing views. This is called “politically motivated reasoning.” If our society wants to continue to have the meaningful political discussions essential for a functioning democracy, we need tools to defend ourselves against these biases.
This thesis includes a thorough literature review of the research on motivated reasoning with hypotheses for interventions that may reduce motivated reasoning. It also tests an intervention to reduce politically motivated reasoning with a experimental study. Instead of blaming individuals, we need to design tools to equip people to analyze political information without biases getting in the way.
What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program? I was excited to learn from the cohort of amazing students. Working with students from different departments over the course of a year helped me produce stronger research and be a better colleague.
Future aspirations post-Stanford: I hope to use the tools of ethnographic research, behavioral science, and data science to design experiences that help people make better decisions and live more fulfilling lives.
Alex Trivella's Thesis,"Thwarting Electoral Revolution: The Communal State and Authoritarian Consolidation in Venezuela" will receive a Firestone Medal, given to the top 10% of all honors theses.
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
Thesis Advisor: Beatriz Magaloni
Thesis Title: Thwarting Electoral Revolution: The Communal State and Authoritarian Consolidation in Venezuela
Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law? As Venezuela faces a new political era of single-party dictatorship, the future of the country remains uncertain. It is still unclear how the party will proceed in its consolidation of power and what institutions will remain relevant. Studying the evolution of Communal State structures exposes the political framework available to the Venezuelan government and may reveal a path to redemocratization.
What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program? The CDDRL honors program provided me the opportunity to engage with some of the complex questions I had about the socioeconomic collapse of my country. I was also excited for the new perspectives available through the program's multidisciplinary focus.
Future aspirations post-Stanford: I would like to pursue a Master's in International Policy and possibly work in something relating to democratization. I also hope to help rebuild Venezuela in the future.