"Gendered Political Contexts: The Gender Gap in Political Knowledge."

The Journal of Politics, 81, 4

Abstract: What explains the pervasive gender gap in political knowledge found by surveys across different contexts? I argue that female political representation affects the levels of political knowledge expressed by men and women, and ultimately the gender gap. I argue that the underrepresentation of women in politics makes negative gender stereotypes salient, and these in turn affect how much cognitive effort individuals put into thinking about politics. Moreover, I argue that surveys themselves are often responsible for enhancing the effect of those considerations. I analyze cross-national survey data from 120 countries and show that the gap in knowledge decreases as the level of female representation increases across countries. Then, I manipulate the gender composition of feeling thermometer batteries in a survey experiment with American respondents in order to show that priming considerations about female representation impacts respondents’ performance on knowledge questions. The findings suggest an explanation for why surveys often reveal gender differences in political knowledge and a causal mechanism connecting women’s representation and public opinion. 

“Prejudice, Information, and the Vote for Women in Personalized PR Systems: Evidence from Brazil”

(revise and resubmit)

Abstract: Evidence from extant scholarship shows that personalized proportional representation systems elect fewer women than other systems. This paper uses individual-level survey data and leverages state-level variation in campaign expenditures and number of candidates to assess three main explanations for the phenomenon. The first proposes that voters become less likely to elect women because male candidates are more visible, since they have more access to campaign resources. The second proposes that voters rely on prejudice against women in complex electoral environments. The third explanation argues that the presence of co-partisan competition allows voters to substitute male for female candidates. The evidence at the individual-level in Brazil supports the three perspectives, while the analyses at the district-level provide support for the co-partisan substitution hypothesis. The findings present new evidence that features of electoral systems interact with voters’ perceptions in ways that affect the electoral chances of female candidates.

“Do Female Politicians Face Stronger Backlash for Corruption Allegations? Evidence from Survey-Experiments in Brazil and Mexico”

(revise and resubmit)

Presented at the SECOLAS Conference, Nashville (Spring 2018)

Abstract: The recent world-wide trend of female chief executives struggling to maintain public support while facing corruption allegations and scandals poses the question of whether female politicians face stronger backlash for corruption than their male counterparts. Even though corruption scandals and allegations are not exclusive to countries led by female incumbents, notable figures such as former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and former Chilean President Michele Bachelet seem to have experienced more dramatic drops in public support when targeted by corruption allegations in comparison to male incumbents from their region. This paper tests whether beliefs about women's higher honesty and purity can lead voters to punish perceived transgressions by female politicians more harshly than when those are performed by men. Using survey-experiments conducted in Brazil and Mexico, the analyses find weak support for the gender-related backlash in Mexico and no evidence for it in Brazil. The findings suggest that the backlash in Mexico could be due to leniency towards corrupt male politicians rather than stronger negative reactions against corrupt female politicians. Overall, the results suggest that the differential gender-related backlash against incumbents depends on individual and contextual-level factors.

"Gender Attitudes and Public Opinion Towards Electoral Gender Quotas in Brazil" (with Nathália Porto)

(under review)

Presented at the SECOLAS Conference, Chapel Hill (Spring 2017)

Abstract: Research on public opinion towards affirmative action shows that citizens often support the principle of equality while simultaneously rejecting policies that promote it, in a pattern described as the ``principle-policy puzzle.'' The scholarship also shows that ideology and prejudice towards the targeted group explain the puzzle with respect to racial affirmative action. In this paper, we use a unique set of survey questions included in the 2014 round of the AmericasBarometer in Brazil to show that citizens tend to support electoral gender quotas while rejecting gender-based egalitarianism, in a reversed version of the ``principle-policy puzzle.'' We argue that a different type of gender attitudes, namely benevolent sexism, shapes support for electoral gender quotas as well as for the principle of equality. While benevolent sexists tend to reject gender equality based on views about gender complementarity and stereotypes about women's purity, they also support electoral gender quotas as policies to foster such values and beliefs. Our findings suggest that, even though the political and scholarly debates on quotas can provide sound normative reasons for the adoption of such policies across different contexts, public support for them often relies on paternalistic views and expectations about the role of women in politics.

"Electoral Rules and Voter Bias Against Female Candidates in Brazilian Congressional Elections"

(in preparation)

Presented at the Comparative Politics Seminar, Vanderbilt University (Spring 2015)

Presented at the APSA Meeting, San Francisco (Fall 2015)

Abstract: This paper proposes a theory that explains how electoral rules moderate the effect of voter bias on candidate choice. Voter bias against female candidates follows a pattern known as aversive sexism, which denotes that voters discriminate when the choice structure does not make the bias clear to others and to themselves. As a result, voters are less likely to vote for women when they can substitute ideologically close female candidates with male co-partisans. I focus on the Brazilian case to investigate why, contrary to conventional wisdom on the topic, voters are more likely to elect women running in plurality races for the Senate than in proportional races for the Chamber of Deputies. I use survey data, a ballot experiment, and cross-national data on women's representation to test the aversive sexism theory. The results shed light on how institutions can produce voting patterns that harm the electoral prospects of female candidates.

"Measuring Political Knowledge Across Countries"

(under review)

Presented at the MPSA Meeting, Chicago (Spring 2015)

Abstract: An informed public is viewed as essential for high quality democratic representation. Existing work suggests individual-level characteristics such as education affect political information. But contextual factors such as the availability of telecommunication, the level of democracy, and the type of electoral system may also impede or facilitate the acquisition of knowledge. However, survey questions often vary across countries, making it difficult to identify the potential role of contextual factors. I develop a new political knowledge measure based on a Bayesian item response model that explicitly accounts for differences in the questions across countries. Using the AmericasBarometer surveys from Latin America and the Caribbean, I demonstrate that the conclusions we draw about the determinants of knowledge depend critically on the measure used. Whereas the conventional measure surprisingly suggests that very little predicts variation in knowledge across countries, after correcting for non-comparable survey questions I demonstrate that factors such as level of democracy, investments in telecommunications, ethnolinguistic diversity, and type of electoral system have substantial effects on knowledge.

Non Causa Pro Causa: The Left-Right Vote in Brazil.” (in Portuguese)

(under review)

Abstract: Most studies on voting behavior in Brazil agree that the left-right scale is not associated with vote choice. However, part of the scholarship often ignores or challenges such consensus. To solve this matter, this paper replicates and re-analyzes public opinion data used by studies that propose that voters choose candidates based on left-right positions. The results indicate that those studies present several methodological problems that invalidate their claims. The statistical relationship between ideology and voting is generally weak and only strong among a small group of sophisticated voters. Finally, panel data analysis does not find evidence that the statistical association reflects a causal relationship. All in all, it is time to search for new factors in the explanation of voting behavior in Brazil.

"Perceptions of Corruption and the Approval Ratings of Female Incumbents"

(in preparation)

Presented at the SeLAB Mini-Conference, Atlanta (Fall 2017)

Presented at the MPSA Meeting, Chicago (Spring 2017)

Abstract: Are perceptions of corruption more harmful to the reputations of female than of male incumbents? Using the AmericasBarometer surveys from 2004 to 2014 and a new strategy to measure incumbent-related perceptions of corruption, the paper shows evidence that those perceptions of corruption have a stronger negative effect on the job approval ratings of female incumbents in comparison to their male counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean. The drop in approval ratings of female incumbents is on average about five percent points larger than the corresponding drop in the ratings of male incumbents across the region, even after controlling for a range of political, economic, and gender-related variables that are hypothesized to moderate the effect of perceptions of corruption on incumbents’ job approval. The results have broader implications not only for the study of women’s representation and leadership in politics, but also for the theories that explain how incumbents’ approval ratings vary across contexts and over time.

“Globalization and Democratic Attitudes” (with Gabriel Casalecchi)

(in preparation)

Presented at the MPSA Meeting, Chicago (Spring 2019)

Abstract: Does globalization foster democracy? Previous research provides alternative theoretical accounts and mixed findings to answer this question. Part of the literature argues that globalization fosters democracy by spreading democratic values. However, no study to date has directly assessed whether globalization is associated with democratic attitudes across countries. Using wave 6 of the World Values Survey (2010-2014) and country-level data from the KOF Index of Globalization, we examine the relationship between globalization and its sub dimensions (economic, social, and political) and different measures of citizens' democratic attitudes. Our findings indicate that the general measure of globalization has weak effects on democratic attitudes, while its political and social dimensions are positively associated with support for democracy. Moreover, we find that those variables tend to increase the educational gap in support for democracy. Economic globalization is not associated with support for democracy or with the educational gap.

“What Kills a Rumor? Understanding When and How Corrective Information Works Against Fake News” (with Natália Bueno, Nara Pavão, and Felipe Nunes)

(in preparation)

Review (invited) of “Partisans, Antipartisans, and Nonpartisans: Voting Behavior in Brazil (by Samuels and Zucco)"

(in preparation for Perspectives on Politics)


 "Retrospective Economic Voting and Political Sophistication in the 2002 Presidential Elections." (in Portuguese) 2014

Revista de Sociologia e Política, 22 (50)

Abstract: This article discusses economic voting from the perspective of unequal political sophistication among voters. Several studies show evidence that Brazilian voters are able to connect their perceptions about the economy to their vote choice and to their evaluations of the president. This evidence is often used to support the claim that Brazilian mass electorates are capable of making reasonable choices by basing their judgments on the economy instead of paying too much attention to parties, issues, or ideological labels. This article analyzes panel survey data from Caxias do Sul and Juiz de Fora in 2002 in order to test whether the effect of retrospective economic evaluations on vote choice depends on voters' levels of political sophistication. The results show that retrospective economic evaluations tend to be quite unstable over time, and that their impact is limited to the vote choice of more sophisticated voters. Finally, the article discusses the implications of the findings and the importance of taking into account the inequality of political sophistication in understanding the dynamics of elections and public opinion in Brazil.



 "The Stability and Effectiveness of Party Preferences in Brazil." (in Portuguese) 2014

Revista Brasileira de Ciência Política, 13 (1)

Abstract: This paper uses panel survey data from Caxias do Sul and Juiz de Fora in 2002 to assess to what extent partisanship constitutes a stable and effective political orientation for Brazilian voters. The analysis in the article focuses on respondents who support the Workers’ Party. The main question is whether party identification can actually be considered a cause of vote choice in the Brazilian multi-party system. In order to answer this question, two competing perspectives are examined. The first perspective argues that, even though partisanship is restricted to a small proportion of the Brazilian electorate, it is a strong orientation among those voters who express it. The second perspective argues that partisanship is mostly an unstable orientation that acquires salience only during electoral periods, and due in large part to campaign effects and the influence of candidates. The results show that almost half of the party preferences that are reported in the electoral period are exclusively a result of the salience of the presidential election, and that partisan identification tends to disappear when the race is over. Moreover, unstable partisans tend to vote less frequently for their preferred party in elections than stable partisans. Finally, it is shown that unstable partisans tend to present lower levels of political involvement and sophistication than stable partisans.



"Political Sophistication and Public Opinion in Brazil: Revisiting Classical Hypotheses." (in Portuguese) 2013

Opinião Pública, 19 (2)

Abstract: This article analyzes the impact of political sophistication on citizens’ political preferences. After defining the concept and measurement of political sophistication, panel survey data from Caxias do Sul and Juiz de Fora in 2002 are used to assess its main determinants in the Brazilian context. Next, the article tests four hypotheses derived from existing scholarship about the effects of political sophistication on individual preferences and information processing. The four hypotheses tested are: 1) more politically sophisticated citizens are more ideologically constrained in their political attitudes then less sophisticated individuals; 2) more sophisticated citizens present more stable attitudes over time than less sophisticated individuals; 3) more sophisticated citizens acquire more political information over time than less sophisticated individuals, and; 4) more sophisticated citizens tend to express opinions more frequently than less sophisticated individuals. The analyses in the paper provide strong support for all four hypotheses. Finally, the article discusses some implications of the results for the study of public opinion and elections in Brazil. 



"Information and Conceptualization: The Cognitive Dimension of Political Inequality Among the Young in Belo Horizinte." (in Portuguese) 2011

(with Mario Fuks)

Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, 26 (76)

Abstract: This article discusses the concept, measurement, and processes by which individuals acquire political knowledge. We discuss, firstly, the debate concerning the concept and measurement of political knowledge in empirical research. Next, we create indicators of the two main types of knowledge: factual information and conceptual knowledge. Finally we examine, through multivariate statistical analysis, the processes by which young people acquire the two types of knowledge.




Legitimacy and Quality of Democracy in Brazil: A Citizenship Perspective. (in Portuguese) 2011

(with Lucio R. Renno, Amy E. Smith, and Matthew L. Layton)

Editora Intermeios




"The Economic Vote in Brazil." (in Portuguese) 2014

In: Robert Bonifácio, Gabriel Casalecchi, and Cleber de Deus. The Vote for President in Brazil, 1989-2010: Conditioning and Explanatory Factors.

Editora Íthala


"Political Sophistication and the Vote for President in Brazil." (in Portuguese) 2014

(with Mario Fuks and Gabriel Casalecchi)

In: Robert Bonifácio, Gabriel Casalecchi, and Cleber de Deus. The Vote for President in Brazil, 1989-2010: Conditioning and Explanatory Factors.

Editora Íthala



"Trust in Elections in Venezuela." (also in Spanish) 2013

(with Mitchell Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister)

AmericasBarometer Topical Brief, April 8


"Do Venezuelans Expect Unrest After the Elections." (also in Spanish) 2013

(with Mitchell Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister)

AmericasBarometer Topical Brief, April 1


"Public Support for Democracy Endures in Venezuela." (also in Spanish) 2013

(with Mitchell Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister)

AmericasBarometer Topical Brief, March 11


"Gender and Community Participation in Latin America and the Caribbean." (also in Spanish) 2012 

AmericasBarometer Insights, 2012, 78


"Why Are There More Partisans in Some Countries than in Others." (also in Spanish) 2012

AmericasBarometer Insights, 2012, 71


"Political Knowledge Levels Across the Urban-Rural Divide in Latin America and the Caribbean" (also in Spanish) 2011

AmericasBarometer Insights, 2011, 68


"Rationality, Environments, and Political Sophistication in the Presidential Vote Choice." (in Portuguese) 2010

Master's Thesis, Federal University of Minas Gerais

Committee: Fábio W. Reis (Chair), Mônica M. M. Castro, and Mario Fuks