Pablo Barberá's research while affiliated with University of Southern California and other places

Publications (43)

Preprint
In this note, we provide direct evidence of cheating in online assessments of political knowledge. We combine survey responses with web tracking data of a German and a US online panel to assess whether people turn to external sources for answers. We observe item-level prevalence rates of cheating that range from 0 to 12 percent depending on questio...
Article
Full-text available
In this note, we provide direct evidence of cheating in online assessments of political knowledge. We combine survey responses with web tracking data of a German and a US online panel to assess whether people turn to external sources for answers. We observe item-level prevalence rates of cheating that range from 0 to 12 percent depending on questio...
Preprint
Who constitutes the online public, the citizens engaging with political con- tent online? The digital extension of the public arena challenges conventional approaches examining public discourse. Besides mapping the political online ecosystem beyond news outlets, a crucial factor for understanding the on- line public discourse are the individuals in...
Article
How do leaders communicate during domestic crises? We provide the first global analysis of world leader communication on social media during social unrest. We develop a theory of leaders’ digital communication strategies, building on the diversionary theory of foreign policy, as well as research on the role of democratic institutions in explaining...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Popular wisdom suggests that the internet plays a major role in influencing people’s attitudes and behaviors related to politics, such as by providing slanted sources of information. Yet evidence for this proposition is elusive due to methodological difficulties and the multifaceted nature of online media effects. This study breaks gro...
Article
Full-text available
Voting Advice Applications (VAAs), which provide citizens with information on the party that best represents their political preferences, are often cited as evidence of the empowering capabilities of digital tools. Aside from the informational benefits of these voter guides, observational studies have suggested a strong effect on political particip...
Chapter
Social Media and Democracy - edited by Nathaniel Persily September 2020
Article
Automated text analysis methods have made possible the classification of large corpora of text by measures such as topic and tone. Here, we provide a guide to help researchers navigate the consequential decisions they need to make before any measure can be produced from the text. We consider, both theoretically and empirically, the effects of such...
Article
Why do some issues receive more interest from the public while others do not? This paper develops a theoretical and empirical approach that explains the degree to which issues expand from the elite to the public. We examine how candidates in the 2014 European Parliament elections talked about EU issues, in comparison to other political issues. We r...
Preprint
Voting Advice Applications (VAAs), which provide citizens with information on the party that best represents their political preferences, are often cited as evidence of the empowering capabilities of digital tools. Aside from the informational benefits of these voter guides, observational studies have suggested a strong effect on political particip...
Article
Full-text available
Online incivility and harassment in political communication have become an important topic of concern among politicians, journalists, and academics. This study provides a descriptive account of uncivil interactions between citizens and politicians on Twitter. We develop a conceptual framework for understanding the dynamics of incivility at three di...
Article
Full-text available
A re legislators responsive to the priorities of the public? Research demonstrates a strong correspondence between the issues about which the public cares and the issues addressed by politicians, but conclusive evidence about who leads whom in setting the political agenda has yet to be uncovered. We answer this question with fine-grained temporal a...
Article
Full-text available
It is often claimed that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are profoundly shaping political participation, especially when it comes to protest behavior. Whether or not this is the case, the analysis of “Big Data” generated by social media usage offers unprecedented opportunities to observe complex, dynamic effects associated with...
Article
The growth of social media—and, in particular, Twitter and Facebook—has led scholars to study its effects on mass behavior and protest. But leaders are also active on social media. They use their accounts to communicate with domestic and international audiences. By the end of 2014, more than 76 percent of world leaders had an active presence on soc...
Article
How can one technology-social media-simultaneously give rise to hopes for liberation in authoritarian regimes, be used for repression by these same regimes, and be harnessed by antisystem actors in democracy? We present a simple framework for reconciling these contradictory developments based on two propositions: 1) that social media give voice to...
Article
In order to measure ideology, political scientists heavily rely on the so-called left-right scale. Left and right are, however, abstract political concepts and may trigger different associations among respondents. If these associations vary systematically with other variables this may induce bias in the empirical study of ideology. We illustrate th...
Chapter
Full-text available
The chapter uses Twitter data to investigate the extent to which British, Italian, and Spanish journalists employ Twitter to comment on the news as well as reporting on national and European topics, and, conversely, the degree to which the audiences these journalists manage to attract on Twitter reflect the journalists’ or their media outlets’ poli...
Article
Existing studies focusing on politicians' adoption of Twitter have found that they use it primarily as a broadcasting tool. We argue that citizens' impolite and/or uncivil behavior is one possible explanation for such decisions. Social media conversations are rife with harassment and politicians are a prime target. This alters the incentive structu...
Article
Scholars have debated whether social media platforms, by allowing users to select the information to which they are exposed, may lead people to isolate themselves from viewpoints with which they disagree, thereby serving as political “echo chambers.” We investigate hypotheses concerning the circumstances under which Twitter users who communicate ab...
Chapter
Quantitative research in social science research is changing rapidly. Researchers have vast and complex arrays of data with which to work: we have incredible tools to sift through the data and recognize patterns in that data; there are now many sophisticated models that we can use to make sense of those patterns; and we have extremely powerful comp...
Article
The quantity of citations (“times cited”) has evolved into an influential indicator of scientific impact both in itself and packaged into other metrics (e.g. h-index, impact factor). In this study we contrast the idea of “quantity” with the idea of the “quality” of citations, i.e. the “quality” of impact. We develop and present methods that can be...
Article
Social media have provided instrumental means of communication in many recent political protests. The efficiency of online networks in disseminating timely information has been praised by many commentators; at the same time, users are often derided as "slacktivists" because of the shallow commitment involved in clicking a forwarding button. Here we...
Data
Supplementary Materials. This document contains additional information about the estimation techniques, empirical analysis, and robustness tests. (DOCX)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The recent emergence of microblogs has had a significant effect on the contemporary political landscape. The platform's potential to enhance information availability and make interactive discussions between politicians and citizens feasible is especially important. Existing studies focusing on politi-cians' adoption of Twitter have found that far f...
Article
We estimated ideological preferences of 3.8 million Twitter users and, using a data set of nearly 150 million tweets concerning 12 political and nonpolitical issues, explored whether online communication resembles an "echo chamber" (as a result of selective exposure and ideological segregation) or a "national conversation." We observed that informa...
Article
Scholars and commentators have debated whether lower-threshold forms of political engagement on social media should be treated as being conducive to higher-threshold modes of political participation or a diversion from them. Drawing on an original survey of a representative sample of Italians who discussed the 2013 election on Twitter, we demonstra...
Article
The recent emergence of microblogs has had a significant effect on the contemporary political landscape. The platform’s potential to enhance information availability and make interactive discussions between politicians and citizens feasible is especially important. Existing studies focusing on politicians’ adoption of Twitter have found that far fr...
Chapter
This chapter examines the use of social networking sites such as Twitter in measuring public opinion. It first considers the opportunities and challenges that are involved in conducting public opinion surveys using social media data. Three challenges are discussed: identifying political opinion, representativeness of social media users, and aggrega...
Chapter
Full-text available
SUMARIO. 1. Introducción. 2. Resultados, listas, alcaldes y concejales. 3. La fragmentación partidista. 4. La desproporcionalidad electoral. 5. La naciona-lización partidista. 6. La volatilidad electoral agregada. 7. Las transferencias de voto. 8. Conclusiones. 9. Referencias bibliográficas.
Article
In this article, we analyze the structure and content of the political conversations that took place through the microblogging platform Twitter in the context of the 2011 Spanish legislative elections and the 2012 U.S. presidential elections. Using a unique database of nearly 70 million tweets collected during both election campaigns, we find that...
Conference Paper
This study aims at pointing at an important problem: Vague concepts in survey questions may trigger differential associations and, thus, impact respondents’ answers. If these associations vary systematically with other explanatory variables it may introduce bias in observed empirical relationships. We illustrate this problem relying on a survey of...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies of the electoral consequences of corruption in Spanish local elections have found that voters do not necessarily punish corrupt mayors. As has been pointed out in the comparative literature, the average loss of electoral support by corrupt incumbents is small and does not prevent their reelection most of the times. What remains uns...
Article
Social media have become increasingly relevant in election campaigns, as both politicians and citizens have integrated them into their communication toolkits. However, little is known about which types of citizens employ social media to discuss politics and stay informed about current affairs and how they integrate the messages and social connectio...
Article
Are legislators responsive to their constituents in their public communication? To what extent are they able to shape voters’ preferences, as expressed by the issues they discuss? We address this twofold question with an analysis of all tweets sent by U.S. Members of Congress and a random sample of their followers from January to August 2013. Using...
Article
Politicians and citizens increasingly engage in political conversations on social media outlets such as Twitter. In this article, I show that the structure of the social networks in which they are embedded can be a source of information about their ideological positions. Under the assumption that social networks are homophilic, I develop a Bayesian...
Article
When voters cast their ballot, are they choosing a candidate or a party? Electoral systems have a significant impact on how this question is answered in each country. As previous literature has shown, some electoral rules foster a more personal representation, while others strengthen the intermediary role of parties. In this paper I maintain that t...
Article
When voters cast their ballot, are they choosing a candidate or a party? Electoral systems have a significant impact on how this question is answered in each country. As previous literature has shown, some electoral rules foster a more personal representation, while others strengthen the intermediary role of parties. In this paper I maintain that t...
Article
Parties, candidates, and voters are becoming increasingly engaged in political conversations through the micro-blogging platform Twitter. In this paper I explore whether the structure of the social networks in which they are embedded has the potential to become a source of information about policy positions. Under the assumption that social network...

Citations

... On Twitter, social movement networks take advantage of this existing affordance, the ability to link and search conversations through hashtags, to bring attention to their campaigns (Freelon et al. 2016;Jackson et al. 2020). Because activists often "live-tweet" events, analyzing tweets using hashtags of activist campaigns in a specific period can reveal insights into the movement dynamics occurring in both physical and virtual space (Earl et al. 2013;Tremayne 2014;Tucker et al. 2016;Tufekci 2017). Moreover, while they are not synonymous with movements, tweets and retweets of hashtags provide the very traces of how activists are expressing their support for each other and for movements, thus it is possible to empirically investigate the association between hashtags. ...
... Unsurprisingly, such drastic proliferation of governmental accounts on social media propelled a new strand of academic research focused on leaders' digital communication and diplomacy (Barberá and Zeitzoff 2017;Munger et al. 2018;Zeitzoff 2018). From this new research agenda we know that political leaders use social media strategically to divert attention from domestic problems, bolster regime legitimacy, and suppress opposition (Barberá et al. 2018;Gunitsky 2015;Pearce 2015). ...
... Increased partisanship in news can result in enhanced polarization which undermines democracy and has a substantial negative impact across the entire society (Vincent and Mestre 2018;Minar and Naher 2018;Recuero, Soares, and Gruzd 2020;Conover et al. 2011;Weld, Glenski, and Althoff 2021;. For instance, researchers found that online partisan media can lead to a lasting and meaningful decrease in trust in the mainstream media (Guess et al. 2021). Recuero, Soares, and Gruzd (2020) investigated the role of hyperpartisanship and polarization on Twitter during the 2018 Brazilian presidential Election and found that as the centrality of the hyperpartisan news outlets grows, the mainstream news organizations become more and more biased. ...
... In this article, we demonstrate a methodological framework for studying the effect of social media and the internet on individuals. By embedding a naturalistic encouragement in an online panel survey with linked digital trace data, our design achieves ecological validity without sacrificing internal validity (45). This approach does not come without costs: our intervention was necessarily a bundle, although multiple survey waves allowed us to prespecify and test for different pathways of influence. ...
... With few exceptions [27,28], existing work focuses on either classifying online hate speech as binary (i.e., hate or not hate) or classifying a small set of hate speech types [5,[29][30][31]. Most prior work tends to draw data from 1 or 2 social media platforms, usually mainstream and moderated platforms [31][32][33][34][35][36]. A recent survey found that Twitter was by far the most studied source in articles using automated detection of online hate speech [26]. ...
... Second, while previous studies only covered a single object of diffusion 15-17 -and thus could not find variability in the segregation effect-we study 32 different objects of variable virality. Third, a number of studies have argued that in ideologically segregated environments individuals more readily share implausible messages that echo their political views 7,8,19,20,[27][28][29][30][31][32] . To rule out the confounding of any such behavioral effects, individuals must be prevented from self-selecting into networks of homophilous friendships and remain uninformed about their neighbors' ideological identities. ...
... Such comparative studies have been mainly conducted using computational text analysis. Automated text analysis, despite its potential to enable the analysis of large corpora in a short time and with minimal effort, has been criticized for its inability to understand the deeper levels and nuances of meaning in human texts (Barberá et al. 2021). As a result, the existing literature seems to have remained at a descriptive level, largely examining salient frames in politicians' speeches and how political elites address crises and communicate with people in liberal societies. ...
... Therefore, the rise of digital platforms makes scholars research who sets the political agenda in networked environments. Despite a great quantity of media studies dedicated to the questions of perception of social media messages [4,11], effects of exposure to news media on social media discussions [12], interaction between politicians and the public on social media [13], there is still no full and detailed understanding of the social media role in agenda setting. ...
... Attempts to measure the prevalence and diffusion of hate speech have been at the forefront of this work, including studies that take place on single platforms (Gallacher & Bright, 2021;He et al., 2021;Mathew et al., 2018) and those on multiple platforms (Gallacher, 2021;Velásquez et al., 2021) with the latter including studies of what happens to user's hate speech on one platform when they are banned from another one (Ali et al., 2021;Mitts, 2021). Other studies have focused on more specific topics, such as the amount of hate speech produced by bots as opposed to humans (Albadi et al., 2019), examining whether there are serial producers of hate in Italy (Cinelli et al., 2021) or hate speech targeted at elected officials and politicians (Greenwood et al., 2019;Rheault et al., 2019;Theocharis et al., 2020). ...
... The one exception has been a few studies that attempt to use the discussion of issues as a way of teasing out who is leading the public conversation on important policy issues, elites or the mass public(Barberá et al., 2019;Gilardi et al., 2021Gilardi et al., , 2022. These studies, however, tend to measure attention to multiple topics and issues, but not opinions in regard to these issues.6 ...