Associate Professor of Political Science and Psychology
Associate Professor of Political Science and Psychology. Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1994.
Research Interests: Political Psychology; Public Opinion and Political Persuasion; Ambivalence; Authoritarianism; Experimental Methodology.
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, N.Y. 11794-4392
(631) 632-4304 (office)
(631) 632-4116 (fax)
- Curriculum Vitae [pdf ]
- Representative Publications
PDF's of Representative Publications
Lavine, H., and Gschwend, T. (2007). Issues, party, and character: The moderating role of
ideological thinking on candidate evaluation. British Journal of Political Science, 37,
Schatz, R. & Lavine, H. (2007). Waving the flag: National symbolism, social identity, and
political engagement. Political Psychology, 28, 329-355. (pdf)
Basinger, S., & Lavine, H. (2005). Ambivalence, information, and electoral choice. American
Political Science Review, 99, 169-184. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Lodge, M., & Freitas, K. (2005). Authoritarianism, threat, and selective exposure
to information. Political Psychology, 26, 219-244. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Lodge, M., Polichak, J., & Taber, C. (2002). Explicating the black box through
experimentation: Studies of authoritarianism and threat. Political Analysis, 10, 342-360. (pdf)
Lavine, H. (2001). The electoral consequences of ambivalence toward presidential candidates.
American Journal of Political Science, 45, 915-929. (pdf)
Gonnerman, M. E., Parker, C., Lavine H., & Huff, J. W. (2000). The relationship between self-
discrepancies and affective states: The moderating roles of self-monitoring and
standpoints on the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 810-819. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Borgida, E., & Sullivan J. L. (2000). On the relationship between attitude
involvement and attitude accessibility: Toward a cognitive-motivational model of
political information processing. Political Psychology, 21, 81-106. (pdf)
Lavine, H. (1999). Types of evidence and routes to persuasion: The unimodel vs. dual-process
models. Psychological Inquiry, 10, 141-144. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Wagner, S. H., & Sweeney, D. (1999). Depicting women as sex objects in television
advertising: Effects on body dissatisfaction and attitudes toward women. Personality and
Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 1049-1058. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Burgess, D., Snyder, M., Transue, J., Sullivan, J. L., Haney, B., & Wagner, S.
(1999). Threat, authoritarianism, and voting: An investigation of personality and
persuasion. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 337-347. (pdf)
Schatz, R. T., Staub, E., & Lavine, H. (1999). On the varieties of national attachment: Blind
versus constructive patriotism. Political Psychology, 20, 151-174. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Huff, J. W., Wagner, S. J., & Sweeney, D. (1998). The moderating influence of
attitude strength on the susceptibility to context effects in attitude surveys. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 359-373. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Thomsen, C. J., Zanna, M. P., & Borgida, E. (1998). On the primacy of affect in the
determination of political attitudes and behavior: The moderating influence of affective-
cognitive ambivalence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 34, 398-421. (pdf)
Christiansen, N., & Lavine, H. (1997). Need-efficiency trade-offs in the allocation of resources:
Ideological and attributional differences in aid allocation preferences. Social Justice
Research, 10, 289-310. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Thomsen, C. J., & Gonzalez, M. H. (1997). The development of inter-attitudinal
consistency: The shared consequences model. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 72, 735-749. (pdf)
Lavine, H., & Latané, B. (1996). A cognitive-social theory of public opinion: Dynamic impact
and cognitive structure. Journal of Communication, 46, 48-56. (pdf)
Lavine, H., & Snyder, M. (1996). Cognitive processing and the functional matching effect in
persuasion: The mediating role of subjective perceptions of message quality. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology, 32, 580-604. (pdf)
Lavine, H., Sullivan, J. L., Borgida, E., & Thomsen, C. J. (1996). The relationship of national
and personal issue salience to attitude accessibility on foreign and domestic policy issues.
Political Psychology, 17, 293-316. (pdf)
Thomsen, C. J., Lavine, H., & Kounios. (1996). Social value and attitude concepts in semantic
memory: Relational structure, concept strength, and the fan effect. Social Cognition, 14,
- Research Interests
- Political Psychology (Journal of the International Society of Political Psychology)
Course Offerings and Syllabi
Type of Class
|Undergraduate||POL 348||Political Beliefs|
|Undergraduate||POL 349||Social Psychology of Politics|
|Doctoral||POL 610||Foundation: Experimental Methods|
|Doctoral||POL 632||Mass Communication and Attitude Change|
|Doctoral||POL 678||Mass Belief Systems|
Among the most important insights in the psychology of decision making is that preference judgments are reached through a diverse and flexible set of cognitive strategies. In my recent work, I have proposed a general psychological framework of political choice, one that considers how decision strategies are contingent on variation in political engagement and attitude strength, key aspects of the political environment (e.g., the degree to which an electoral context subsidizes the voter’s information costs), and most important, on the nature of voters’ goals as they seek to learn about and appraise political candidates, issues, and events.
The core argument is that political reasoning involves a tension between strivings for three generally conflicting motivations: efficiency, accuracy, and belief perseverance. Ideally, citizens would like to make “correct” judgments that reflect reality and their substantive values, while at the same time making frugal use of cognitive resources and leaving current beliefs intact. In many instances, voters can manage to maximize these goals by relying on the simple but powerful cue of party identification. However, we find that many citizens experience internalized conflict toward the party labels (quite apart from levels of partisan strength and political sophistication), rendering partisan cues unreliable judgment guides. While this ambivalence may occur for a variety of reasons, the most politically potent manifestation stems from a disjuncture between voters’ long-term identification with a political party and their short-term evaluations of the party’s capacity to govern and to deliver benefits to the public.
In a series of papers (and a book in progress), my colleagues and I show that partisan ambivalence is a fundamental aspect of mass belief systems and a principal determinant of the way voters “decide how to decide” across a variety of political judgment contexts. By degrading the heuristic value of partisan identity as a political cue, partisan ambivalence motivates voters to step up their information processing; in particular, to think more deeply (i.e., “systematically) and objectively about their political choices, leading ultimately to normatively better political decisions. For example, in electoral contexts, ambivalent voters pay greater attention to the policy content of campaigns and rely on a larger and more diverse set of factors in reaching their decisions. In judging economic performance, ambivalence virtually eliminates partisan bias and sharply heightens responsiveness to real economic signals. More broadly, ambivalent voters are more sensitive to the political environment, more willing to acquire new information, and more likely to update their political preferences and beliefs in accord with rational models.
I also have a longstanding interest in the psychological nature, origins and political dynamics of authoritarianism. In several articles published over the last decade, I have explored the hypothesis that authoritarians are especially sensitive to various forms of implicit and explicit situational threat. From automatic priming experiments to studies of message-based persuasion, selective perception, voting, and policy reasoning, my colleagues and I find that threat magnifies the cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral effects of authoritarianism. In my current work, I show that the influence of racial diversity on policy attitudes is conditioned by levels of authoritarianism but rarely by economic markers (e.g., income). The pattern of findings indicates that the political consequences of racial conflict more likely stem from cultural and symbolic rather than instrumental (i.e., realistic group conflict) motives.