Eric Groenendyk (Ph.D., University of Michigan) joined the Department of Political
Science in 2009. His research focuses broadly on political behavior in American politics.
He is particularly interested in the social and psychological factors that motivate
citizens to seek out information, form preferences, and voice those preferences through
His recent book, Competing Motives in the Partisan Mind (Oxford University Press, 2013),examines the psychological processes underlying party
identification. Thoughpartisan identity is thought to be the single most powerful
predictor of voting behavior, scholars disagree whether this is good or bad for democracy.
By examining circumstances in which political attitudes and party identities collide,
Groenendyk shows that the answer to this question is conditional. Partisan attachments
bias information processing by motivating individuals to devote their cognitive resources
to identity defense rather than objective evaluation. However, when cognitive resources
are insufficient, these defenses break down and partisans are forced to adjust their
identities to reflect disagreements with their party. In addition, thoughts of civic
duty can stimulate responsiveness motivation to the point that it overwhelms partisan
motivation, leading individuals to adjust their identities to reflect disagreements
with their party. This book received Honorable Mention for the 2014 Robert E. Lane
Award given out by the American Political Science Association for the best book written
each year in the field of political psychology. His latest work builds on this foundation
through a series of papers that investigate the influence of social pressure, ideology,
and goals on political reasoning.
In addition to his work on motivated reasoning and partisanship, he also studies the
role of emotion in politics. Democracy provides individual citizens with relatively
little incentive to get involved in politics, but research by Groenendyk and various
colleagues shows that the emotions politics arouses often motivate citizens to overcome
this hurdle: They form opinions, expend valuable resources on participation, and
eventually develop participatory habits.
Professor Groenendyk serves as Graduate Recruitment Coordinator and teaches courses
on American government, public opinion, political behavior, parties and elections,
statistics, and research methods.