I am a political scientist in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia. I study American politics—with focus on public opinion, political psychology, and gender, race & politics—and methodology—with focus on statistical analysis, research design, and experimental methods. I joined the department at UVa in the Fall of 2006; prior to that I held a tenure track position in the Government Department at Cornell; worked as a policy researcher at Policy Studies Associates in Washington, DC; and worked as a political campaign consultant, also in Washington. I received my Ph.D. in political science from the political science department at the University of Michigan, where my fields of study included American politics, methodology, and social theory.
My office is S385 Gibson Hall
Department Associate Chair
Department of Politics
University of Virginia
S185 Gibson Hall
1540 Jefferson Park Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Department of Politics
PO Box 400787
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904
I study American politics and political methodology. My public opinion research focuses on public opinion, political psychology, and gender, race, and sexuality. My methodological research focuses on semi-automated content analysis and survey data collection. I also develop applications for statistical analysis and graphical presentation in Stata.
Winter, Nicholas J. G. 2008. Dangerous Frames: How Ideas About Race and Gender Shape Public Opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
In addition to their obvious roles in American politics, race and gender also work in hidden ways to profoundly influence the way we think—and vote—about a vast array of issues that don’t seem related to either category. As Nicholas Winter reveals in Dangerous Frames, politicians and leaders often frame these seemingly unrelated issues in ways that prime audiences to respond not to the policy at hand but instead to the way its presentation resonates with their deeply held beliefs about race and gender. Winter shows, for example, how official rhetoric about welfare and Social Security has tapped into white Americans’ racial biases to shape their opinions on both issues for the past two decades. Similarly, the way politicians presented health care reform in the 1990s divided Americans along the lines of their attitudes toward gender. Combining cognitive and political psychology with innovative empirical research, Dangerous Frames ultimately illuminates the emotional underpinnings of American politics.
Winter, Nicholas J. G., Tyler Burleigh, Ryan Kennedy, and Scott Clifford. 2019. “A Simplified Protocol to Screen Out VPS and International Respondents Using Qualtrics.” SSRN Scholarly Paper no. ID 3327274. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
This protocol is a much simplified update of our original protocol for screening out international and VPS respondents from Qualtrics surveys. It utilizes Qualtrics' built-in Web Service functionality to interact with IP Hub in looking up potentially problematic respondents.
Articles & Chapters
Winter, Nicholas J. G. 2022. “Hostile Sexism, Benevolent Sexism, and American Elections.” Politics & Gender: online first.
A prior version of this paper won the award for the best paper presented in the Women & Politics Research section of the 2018 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting
Analyzing unique nationally-representative data I show that two faces of sexism—hostile and benevolent—operate in systematically different ways to shape Americans’lectoral decisions and evaluations of their leaders. In the 2016 presidential election, both fostered support for Trump and opposition to Clinton. They operated differently at the congressional level, however. In analyses of actual congressional candidates and in a conjoint experiment, the impact of hostile sexism is moderated by candidate sex: those high in hostile sexism oppose (and those low in hostile sexism favor) female candidates. Benevolent sexism is moderated by candidates’ symbolically-gendered leadership styles: those high in benevolent sexism oppose candidates with feminine styles and favor candidates with masculine styles, regardless of whether the candidate is male or female. I conclude with discussion of the implications of the two faces of sexism for the role of gender and power in American elections.
Winter, Nicholas J. G., Adam G. Hughes, and Lynn M. Sanders. 2020. “Online Coders, Open Codebooks: New Opportunities for Content Analysis of Political Communication.” Political Science Research & Methods 8:4(731-746). (Prior version presentated at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting.)
Analyzing audiovisual communication is challenging because its content is highly symbolic and less rule-governed than verbal material. We describe a fully reproducible approach to analyzing video content that relies on systematically but minimally trained online workers. By aggregating the work of multiple coders, the online approach achieves reliability, validity, and costs that equal that of traditional, intensively-trained RAs, with much greater speed, transparency, and replicability. Elaborating on the unique features of visual communication and the cognitive structuring of complex concepts, we argue that measurement strategies that rely on the “wisdom of the crowd” are particularly well-suited to coding ambiguous and intricate audiovisual political content.
Winter, Nicholas J. G. 2020. “Gendered (and Racialized) Partisan Polarization.” In Community Wealth Building and the Reconstruction of American Democracy: Can We Make American Democracy Work?, eds. Melody Barnes, Corey D. B. Walker, and Thad Williamson. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
This chapter demonstrates how the increased political polarization of American national politics is connected to stronger connections over the past generation between partisan identification and feelings about the racial, gender, and class groups associated with the parties. greater correlations between personal identity and partisan identification over the past generation. This means that the stakes of Many national political debates at the national level are no longer simply debates about transcend simple policy disagreements because they are , but are deeply entwined with race, gender and other components of personal identity. This finding reinforces Barnes and Williamson’s contention that national politics is largely stuck in stalemate and that there may be more promise for building consensus starting (but not ending) at more local levels of politics.
Kennedy, Ryan, Scott Clifford, Tyler Burleigh, Philip D. Waggoner, Ryan Jewell, and Nicholas J. G. Winter. 2020. “The Shape of and Solutions to the MTurk Quality Crisis.” Political Science Research and Methods 8:4 (731-746).
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is widely used for data collection; however, data quality may be declining due to the use of virtual private servers to fraudulently gain access to studies. Unfortunately, we know little about the scale and consequence of this fraud, and tools for social scientists to detect and prevent this fraud are underdeveloped. We first analyze 38 studies and show that this fraud is not new, but has increased recently. We then show that these fraudulent respondents provide particularly low-quality data and can weaken treatment effects. Finally, we provide two solutions: an easy-to-use application for identifying fraud in the existing datasets and a method for blocking fraudulent respondents in Qualtrics surveys.
Winter, Nicholas J. G. 2010. “Masculine Republicans and Feminine Democrats: Gender and Americans’ Explicit and Implicit Images of the Political Parties” Political Behavior. 32(4):587-618.
During the past three decades Americans have come to view the parties increasingly in gendered terms of masculinity and femininity. Utilizing three decades of American National Election Studies data and the results of a cognitive reaction-time experiment, this paper demonstrates empirically that these connections between party images and gender stereotypes have been forged at the explicit level of the traits that Americans associate with each party, and also at the implicit level of unconscious cognitive connections between gender and party stereotypes. These connections between the parties and masculinity and femininity have important implications for citizens’ political cognition and for the study of American political behavior.
Winter, Nicholas J. G. 2006. “Beyond Welfare: Framing and the Racialization of White Opinion on Social Security.” American Journal of Political Science 50(2):400-420.
In this article I argue that the framing of Social Security in political discourse has associated it symbolically with race. The linkages are subtle and symbolic, and they serve to associate Social Securitywithwhiteness in a mirror image of the association of welfare with blackness. In turn, these associations have racialized white opinion on the program. After discussing the theoretical mechanism by which issue frames can unconsciously associate policies with citizens’ racial predispositions, I review the frames surrounding Social Security. Then, drawing on two decades of nationally representative survey data, I demonstrate the racialization of opinion among whites. Using a variety of measures of racial predispositions, I find that racially conservative whites feel more positively about Social Security than do racial liberals. I conclude by considering the implications of these findings for our understanding of racialized politics and for the connections between race, whiteness, and contemporary American politics.
Winter, Nicholas J. G. 2005. “Framing Gender: Political Rhetoric, Gender Schemas, and Public Opinion on U.S. Health Care Reform.” Politics & Gender 1(3):453-480.
Although gender plays an enormous role in structuring personal relationships, society, politics, and culture, we know relatively little about when people’s gender ideologies will influence their opinions on issues that do not trade directly on matters of gender. This paper lays out a theory of “group implication,” which defines the conditions under which elite political discourse can lead citizens to perceive and evaluate issues in terms of their gender schemas—their cognitive representations of gender beliefs. In the heart of the paper, I apply this framework to an analysis the 1993-94 health care reform effort, and demonstrate how elite frames structured the issue in a way consistent with the gender schema. This structuring was subtle and symbolic, and served to associate, at an unconscious level, people’s gender ideology with their thinking about health care reform. The paper concludes with consideration of the implication of these findings for our understanding of the political impact of gendered rhetoric, and for our conceptual understanding of the relationship between gender and public opinion.
Kinder, Donald R. and Nicholas Winter. 2001. “Exploring the Racial Divide: Blacks, Whites, and Opinion on National Policy.” American Journal of Political Science 45(2):439-56.
Black and white Americans disagree consistently and often substantially in their views on national policy. This racial divide is most pronounced on policies that intrude conspicuously on the fortunes of blacks and whites, but it is also apparent on a wide array of social welfare issues where race is less obviously in play. Our analysis takes up the question of why blacks and whites differ so markedly, distinguishing among four alternative interpretations: one centers attention on underlying differences of class, another on political principles, a third on social identity, and the fourth on audience. Our results are complicated but coherent. We discuss their implications for the meaning of group interest, speculate over the conditions under which the racial divide might close (or widen) in the foreseeable future, and suggest why we should not wish racial differences in opinion to disappear.
Stewart, Abigail J., Isis H. Settles, and Nicholas J. G. Winter. 1998. “Women and the Social Movements of the 1960s: Activists, Engaged Observers, and Nonparticipants.” Political Psychology 19(1):63-94.
Many women in the generation that attended college during the 1960s have reported that they were influenced by the social movements of that era, even women who did not participate in them. In addition to political activists, social movements also appear to include "engaged observers"-individuals who are attentive to movement writings and activities, and express moral and even financial support for them, but who take no other action. Although activism in a movement may be the best predictor of future political action, engaged observation may be related to other indicators of political socialization, such as a powerful felt impact of the movement and well-developed political attitudes. Evidence to support this notion is drawn from studies of three samples of college-educated white and black women.
PLAP 4150—Seminar in Political Psychology
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This course is an introduction to a perhaps-idiosyncratic set of topics in political psychology, with a focus primarily on mass political behavior in the American case. We will focus on a number of substantive topics, with particular interest in roles that metaphor, emotion, and race & gender play in shaping political reasoning and communication. Throughout the term we will also pay careful attention to issues of methodology and research design.
PLAP 4500—The Political Psychology of White Supremacy
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This course explores white supremacy in the contemporary United States using the lens of political psychology. We will covers research on group identity, prejudice and stereotyping, and implicit bias. In addition, we will examine the production of white supremacy in politics, society, culture, and history, with focus on interactions between macro-level structural and individual-level psychological forces and the role of power. Throughout the course we will consider ways that white identity and racialized politics intersect with gender and sexuality, and will consider the ways that using a purely individual-level psychological approach to understand race and racism can render white supremacy invisible.
PLAP 3270—Public Opinion & American Democracy
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This course examines public opinion and assesses its place in the American political system. It emphasizes both how citizens’ thinking about politics is shaped and the role of public opinion in political campaigns, elections, and government. While the course will focus on research on the current state of public opinion, throughout the course we will also discuss historical developments in opinion and its place in politics, including changes that arose with the development of polling and with the advent of television and other new media. We will also consider normative questions, including the role opinion should play in American democracy. Students will complete a semester-long original public opinion research project on a topic of their choosing.
PLAP 4140—Gender & American Political Behavior
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Gender is a social system that defines relevant categories of people, proscribes appropriate attributes and behaviors to those categories, and regularizes power relations among individuals and between society and individuals. Children are socialized very early to recognize, understand, and enact gender, and adults understand and enact it as well.
Gender matters lots of ways. We’ll focus on two related ways in particular: first, on citizen identities and relationship with the state, and second, on candidates’ and leaders’ identities and the perceptions of them by citizens. Less directly, we will touch on the ways the substance of politics—political issues—take on gender connotations, sometimes explicit, sometimes more subtle.
To do this, we will develop theoretical tools, drawing first from psychology, sociology, anthropology, feminist theory, and beyond, and then from American history. We will consider the theoretical place of gender in American politics. Has politics been constructed as a symbolically masculine realm? What effects does that have on citizens' attitudes and behavior? Is that changing? We will also take up a number of topics, including the unavoidable gender gap, the role of masculinity and femininity in conditioning our perceptions of issues and political candidates, the ways gender, politics, and society have interacted historically, and the ways race and gender (and class) interact in conditioning political behavior.
In addition, this course will emphasize research. We will pay careful attention to the different methods and types of evidence that scholars from diverse fields use to learn about gender and the social and political world. We will explore the ways that science informs our understanding of gender, as well as the reciprocal influence of those ideas on how we understand what the data show. And we will conduct and present research ourselves: in class exercises as well as in the culminating research project.
This course has a prerequisite: you must have taken at least one course either on gender or on political behavior.
PLAP 4500.5—Emotional Politics/Political Emotions
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This course explores the often-neglected role of emotion in shaping citizens’ political thought and action. While the Western enlightenment tradition generally treats emotion and cognition as antithetical, recent psychological research suggests they are in fact intimately interconnected. We will draw on a broad range of work, including classical political theory, anthropology, psychology, and political science to explore the interrelated roles of emotion and cognition in the context of American politics.
Prerequisite: Students must have taken at least one class on public opinion or political behavior. Priority will be given to politics majors and to fourth year students.
PLAD 7100—Political Research With Quantitative Methods
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This course will introduce students to some basic methods for conducting quantitative analyses in political science, with a focus on statistics and econometrics. The central theme of the course consists in applying quantitative methods to explore and evaluate political science theories. Statistical analysis has become a standard elements of the political science “tool kit,” and basic familiarity with it is valuable for students in all sub-fields of the discipline. My goal in this class is provide basic familiarity with statistics and econometrics for studying politics, and to lay a solid foundation for further coursework for those who choose to pursue quantitative analysis in more depth. Thus, we will begin at the beginning—with basic probability theory—then move through basic statistical analysis, and conclude with regression analysis. The lectures and problem sets will include a moderate amount of statistical theory, because I believe strongly that familiarity with the underlying theory is critical to the smart application of statistical techniques. The later problem sets will shift the emphasis toward application and data analysis. There are no prerequisites for the course. The course will include some mathematical content; however, no math beyond high school algebra is assumed before you begin.
PLAP 7110—Core Seminar in Political Behavior
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This course provides an introduction to the vast literature devoted to public opinion and mass political behavior. That is, we will survey the major theoretical approaches and empirical research on the behavior of non-elite political actors. “Behavior” is a broad term, which includes the psychological and attitudinal precursors as well as overt behavior such as voting or political protest. The primary focus will be on American public opinion and behavior, although there will be some attention to comparative work. In addition to empirical research on the antecedents of opinion and its role in the larger political system, we will consider normative work on the meaning and measurement of political behavior and on its role in democratic politics.
PLAP 7500—Seminar in Political Psychology
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This course is an introduction to a perhaps-idiosyncratic set of topics in political psychology. It focuses primarily on mass political behavior in the American case. We will focus on a number of substantive topics, with particular interest in new developments in psychological research on implicit cognition and motivation. Throughout the term we will pay careful attention to issues of methodology and research design, and to the promise and pitfalls of interdisciplinary work.
I develop programs primarily for the Stata statistical package, though I dabble in other genres.
- Stata (developer)
- PHP (intermediate)
- Python (intermediate)
- Java (beginner)
- R / R-Studio (beginner)
- LAMP stack administration (working knowledge)