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From the Television Screen to the Ballot Box: The Effects of Entertainment Media on Political Attitudes (DSI-SRP)

Posted by on Thursday, September 8, 2022 in College of Arts and Science, Completed Research, DSI-SRP, Social and Behavioral Sciences.

This DSI-SRP fellowship funded Eleanor Beers to work in the laboratory of Dr. Eunji Kim in the Department of Political Science during the summer of 2022. Eleanor is a junior with a major in Political Science.

This summer, Eleanor worked alongside Dr. Eunji Kim on several projects, all pertaining to the effects of entertainment media on political attitudes. Dr. Kim is a leading scholar in this sub-field, and she is currently working on a book that will expand upon her APSA award-winning dissertation on the effects of entertainment media (specifically “rags-to-riches” television shows) on beliefs in the feasibility of upwards economic mobility. Eleanor’s duties primarily consisted of assisting Dr. Kim in finishing this book, which included many tasks involving of data visualization (using ggplot2 in R to make anything from geocoded maps to basic scatter plots), content analysis of television shows and social media content, data cleaning, manual data input, and literature reviews. Eleanor also worked on her project studying the political effects of law enforcement television shows (such as Blue Bloods, NCIS, and Chicago PD). This project will continue after the SRP and will eventually entail conducting a large-scale field experiment to test these effects. However, Eleanor primarily focused on building a large panel dataset containing television popularity ratings (individual shows/networks/genres), content analysis (i.e., I watched several hours of cop television shows to find potential content for the later field experiment), and outreach tasks (to facilitate the eventual field experiment).

At Dr. Kim’s recommendation, Eleanor also enrolled in an online data science bootcamp (DataCamp) to advance her skills using R and, over time, became more comfortable with her R skills, allowing her to complete more complex tasks. Additionally, the Data Science Institute hosted weekly demos where Eleanor and her SRP peers shared what they were working on. It was an interactive experience, and Eleanor found the demos to be extremely formative, as she learned about more ways that data science is being utilized in different academic disciplines. The DSI also hosted periodic workshops, in which SRP students learned about everything from the ethics of AI to the basics of GitHub. These experiences, the demos and the workshops, allowed Eleanor to learn and gain confidence in my data science abilities.

In addition to receiving support through a DSI-SRP fellowship, this project was supported and facilitated by the DSI Data Science Team through their regular summer workshops and demo sessions.

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