Kevin J. Mullinix

Assistant Professor

About me
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University (PhD Northwestern, 2015). My work concentrates on public opinion and political behavior, primarily, in the context of American politics.

I analyze how people form political attitudes and what shapes political behavior. To what extent does partisanship bias political attitude formation? How much latitude do elites have to manipulate public opinion? Does the public have the capacity to hold representatives accountable? How has partisan polarization in Congress altered public opinion? While biases in attitude formation – which are often rooted in partisan attachments – profoundly alter how people respond to political information, my research suggests that they are not without limits. Indeed, my studies highlight a number of situations in which people pay attention to and even-handedly evaluate relevant information. My analyses focus on evaluations of candidates and a wide range of public policies, and reveal that the citizenry is more responsive to information, less susceptible to manipulation, and more capable of holding representatives accountable than previously thought.

I have a related research agenda on the implications of research design for understanding preference formation. How problematic are student and other convenience samples in experimental research? How does deception in an experiment impact subjects' behavior in later experiments? My research has been supported by two separate
TESS grants (an NSF funded organization), and competitively awarded university grants. Among other outlets, I have published my work in Political Behavior, Political Communication, Journal of Experimental Political Science, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Economic Development Quarterly, and the Policy Studies Journal. My research has been discussed in the Washington Post and has won an American Political Science Association Best Paper Award.