Past Political Methodology Workshops

Hanna Wallach
Assistant Professor
UMass Amherst


Paper Abstract

Influence is often studied by examining explicit structural links in observed interaction networks, such as paper citations or bill co-sponsorship. However, for many domains, such declared links do not exist, are unreliable, or fail to reflect behaviors of interest. In these situations, observed temporal dynamics can instead be used as a proxy by which latent structural information can be inferred. In this talk, I will present the Bayesian Echo Chamber, a new Bayesian generative model for social interaction data. By modeling the evolution of people's language usage over time, using a discrete analog of the multivariate Hawkes process, this model is capable of discovering latent influence relationships. Unlike previous work on inferring influence, which has primarily focused on simple temporal dynamics evidenced via turn-taking behavior, the Bayesian Echo Chamber captures more nuanced influence relationships, evidenced via linguistic accommodation patterns in interaction content. I will present results validating the model's ability to discover known influence patterns using transcripts of arguments heard by the US Supreme Court and the movie "12 Angry Men." Finally, I will showcase the Bayesian Echo Chamber's capabilities by presenting latent influence relationships inferred from Federal Open Market Committee meeting transcripts, thereby demonstrating state-of-the-art performance at uncovering social dynamics in group discussions.
(Joint work with F. Guo, C. Blundell, and K. Heller.)


Hanna Wallach is a researcher at Microsoft Research New York City and an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is one of five core faculty members involved in UMass's recently formed Computational Social Science Institute. Hanna develops machine learning methods for uncovering new insights about the structure, content, and dynamics of social processes. In collaboration with political scientists, sociologists, and journalists, she analyzes publicly available interaction data, such as public record email networks, declassified document dumps, press releases, meeting transcripts, and news articles. Hanna's research contributes to machine learning, Bayesian statistics, and the nascent field of computational social science. Her work on infinite belief networks won the best paper award at AISTATS 2010. Hanna holds a B.A. in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, an M.S. in Cognitive Science and Machine Learning from the University of Edinburgh, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Cambridge. Most importantly, however, she is (to her knowledge) the only person to have appeared in both Glamour magazine ("35 Women Under 35 Who Are Changing the Tech Industry") and Linux Format.
November 5, 2014 - 11:30am - 1:00pm
An Introduction to Web Scraping
Adriane Fresh 
PhD Candidiate 
Stanford University 


June 6, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm





Tips for Text Analysis
Justin Grimmer
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Stanford University 
May 30, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm






Python for ArcGIS
Nick Eubank 
PhD Candidate 
Stanford Graduate School of Business
May 16, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm





An Introduction to SQL
Bradley Spahn 
Graduate Student
Stanford University 
May 2, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm





An Introduction to Python
Rebecca Weiss
PhD Candidate 
Stanford University 
April 25, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm






Conjoint Experiments
Jens Hainmueller 
Associate Professor 
Stanford University 
April 11, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm





<p><strong>Structural Topic Models for Open-Ended Survey Responses</strong></p>
June 3, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm

Dustin Tingley is an Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University. He received my PhD in Politics from Princeton in 2010 and BA from the University of Rochester in 2001. His research interests include international relations, international political economy, and experimental approaches to political science. He is currently working on new experimental projects on bargaining, new methods for the statistical analysis of causal mechanisms, and a book about the domestic politics of US foreign policy.

<p><strong>Transparency, Protests, and Political (In)Stability</strong></p>
May 20, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm

The collapse of political regimes – both democratic and autocratic – is often brought about through large-scale mobilization and collective action by (elements of) the populace against its leadership. The willingness of any given member of the public to participate in such actions against her leaders is contingent upon her beliefs about others’ willingness to similarly mobilize. In this paper, we examine the role of the disclosure of economic data by the government to the populace on citizen belief formation, and consequently on collective mobilization. We present a theoretical model in which disclosure, under autocratic rule, (1) increases the extent to which mobilization is correlated with incumbent performance, and (2) for a range of parameter values, increases the frequency of mobilization. In democracies, by contrast, disclosure increases voter discrimination with respect to government performance. Because voting and mobilization act as substitute mechanisms in disciplining the government, the risk of mobilization falls in transparency. We empirically test these claims and find that all enjoy robust support. Transparency destabilizes autocracies even as it stabilizes democracies.

<p><strong>Assessing Macro and Microrepresentation in the United States</strong></p>
May 13, 2013 - 3:00pm - 4:50pm

Boris Shor, an assistant professor in the Harris School, focuses on two primary research programs. The first is the empirical analysis of the policy consequences of enduring political institutions in the United States. Specifically, he recently examined the politics of the geographic distribution patterns of federal spending. The second area is the analysis of state legislative ideology in comparative context and the connection to cross-state policy differences. His institutional interests include the presidency, Congress, political parties, bureaucracy, and state governmental organization. In other research, he is focusing on the causes and consequences of the blue-red state divide in the U.S.