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

Presented at the MPSA Annual Conference, Chicago (Spring 2014)

Presented at the Women in Politics Conference, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Spring 2014)

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. 


"Electoral Rules and Aversive Sexism: When Does Voter Bias Affect Female Candidates?"

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 accounts for how electoral rules moderate the impact of gender stereotypes on voting behavior. I argue that the impact of gender stereotypes on the vote choice follows a pattern known as aversive sexism, which denotes that voters will discriminate when the choice structure does not make it clear that they are engaging in discriminatory behavior. More specifically, voters will be less likely to vote for women when they can substitute ideologically close female candidates with similar male co-partisans. I first look at cross-national data to show that women’s parliamentary representation tends to be lower in electoral systems where several similar co-partisans compete for the same seats. Then I focus on the Brazilian case in order to show why, contrary to conventional wisdom on the topic, Brazilian voters are more likely to elect females running in the first-past-the-post races for the Senate than in proportional races for the Chamber of Deputies. I use electoral survey data and a ballot experiment with Brazilian subjects to show how those behavioral patterns harm the electoral prospects of female candidates. 


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

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.


"Benevolent Sexism and Public Opinion Towards Electoral Gender Quotas"

(with Nathália Porto)

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

Abstract: Research on public opinion towards affirmative action shows that ideology and prejudice towards the targeted group are the main correlates of opinions about those policies. Similarly, recent scholarship finds evidence that support for state interventionism and attitudes towards women in politics affect public support for electoral gender quotas. In this paper we examine the theoretical model for public support for racial affirmative action and argue that a different type of attitudes towards women, namely benevolent sexism, shapes support for electoral gender quotas. Using an unique set of survey questions asked in the 2014 round of the AmericasBarometer (LAPOP) in Brazil, we show that benevolent sexism has a strong positive effect on public support for gender quotas. Our findings suggest that, even though the political and scholarly debates on quotas for women can provide solid 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.



 "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