Computing hearts and minds: The implications of using modern quantitative social science for public communication campaigns

Date: 23 October 2023

Time: 3:00 PM UTC

Venue: Informatics Forum 1.15 & Zoom

Author/Speaker: Ben Tappin

Public communication campaigns are increasingly using the methods of quantitative social science to achieve their goals. In this talk I will consider some implications of this trend for the potential impact of campaigning on public attitudes and behaviour. Specifically, I will present research in which my coauthors and I analyse the implications of two such methods for the impact of political and public health campaigns: (1) online survey experimentation and (2) message-targeting using machine learning. I will also describe research that speaks to whether the results generated by these methods can be generalised to public communication “in the wild”, where competing partisan cues are often present.

About the Speaker: Ben is a quantitative social scientist interested in political behaviour, public opinion and attitude and behaviour change. He currently completing an early career research fellowship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, in which he is investigating the impact of personalised/targeted communication on public opinion and behaviour. He works out of the Centre for the Politics of Feelings and Royal Holloway University in London, and am a research affiliate of the Human Cooperation Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More information about his work is available at