Faculty Profiles

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Kristin Garrett, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Political Science


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Dr. Garrett’s research and teaching focus on American political behavior, public opinion, political psychology, and research methods. Her current research sheds light on the social causes, polarizing consequences, and physiological measurement of moral conviction in politics. She is also working on broader projects investigating how socializing environments, religious beliefs, media frames, political cues, and psychophysiological responses influence political attitudes and behavior. Her teaching interests include introduction to American government, public opinion, political psychology, morality and politics, media and politics, religion and politics, and quantitative research methods.

University of North Carolina
Ph. D., Political Science, 2016

University of North Carolina
M. A., Political Science, 2013

Wheaton College
B. S., Political Science and Kinesiology, 2007

  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Biology and Politics
  • Morality and Politics
  • Public Opinion
  • American Politics
  • American Political Behavior
  • Political Psychology
  • Religion and Politics
  • Political Communications

The Moralization of Politics: Causes, Consequences, and Measurement of Moral Conviction, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016
Conflicts in politics often stem from different perspectives about what is right and wrong, and recent work in moral psychology sheds light on this phenomenon. People develop unique moral convictions, or perceptions that something is a moral concern, and these convictions trigger powerful psychological processes that influence political attitudes and actions in a myriad of ways. Despite all we know about the political effects of moral conviction, important questions remain to be answered about where it comes from, how it affects partisan division, and how we measure it. Each empirical chapter of this dissertation sheds light on one of these puzzles
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Interest Group Influence in Policy Diffusion Networks, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 2015
Scholars have suggested that interest groups affect the diffusion of innovations across states by creating a network of information between the states that aids in the spread of policy ideas. Still, the unique role that interest groups play in policy diffusion networks is not fully understood, in large part because the current methodology for studying diffusion cannot parse out interest group influence. We address this problem by analyzing the actual text of legislation, moving away from binary adoption to a more nuanced measure of policy similarity. This allows us to distinguish whether states emulate other states or interest group model legislation. We use text similarity scores in a social network analysis to explore whether early-adopting states or interest groups are more central to the network. We apply this analytical framework to two policies—abortion insurance coverage restrictions and self-defense statutes. Based on this analysis, we find that a fundamentally different picture of policy diffusion networks begins to emerge—one where interest group model legislation plays a central role in the diffusion of innovations.
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How States Plagiarize Interest Group Model Bills on Many Issues, American Politics and Policy Blog, 2015
Many lobbying groups from across the ideological spectrum provide assistance to state legislators in drafting bills – but does this practice help the spread of ideas and best practice across the states? In new research which compares the similarity of laws across states, Joshua Jansa and Kristin Garrett find that many bills are highly plagiarized from lobby groups’ model bills. They argue that this ‘copy and paste’ approach to legislation throws the states’ role as ‘laboratories of democracy’ into question...
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