Eric Groenendyk (Ph.D., University of Michigan) joined the department in 2009. His
research focuses broadly on public opinion, political behavior, and the role of the
citizen in democratic government.
Party identification may be the single most powerful predictor of voting behavior,
yet scholars disagree whether this is good or bad for democracy. Competing Motives in the Partisan Mind (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) provides a window into the nature of party identification by examining circumstances
in which political attitudes and party identities collide. Findings show that individuals
devote cognitive resources to defending their party identities against dissonant thoughts,
often resorting to elaborate justifications. However, when cognitive resources are
insufficient, these defenses break down and partisans are forced to adjust their identities
to reflect disagreements. 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 their disagreements.
In addition to his work on party identification, he also studies emotion in politics.
He is particularly interested in the role of anger. In a series of papers, he and
his colleagues demonstrate that anger helps citizens to overcome collective action
problems, motivates them to expend resources on political participation, and facilitates
the development of participatory habits.
In his future research, Professor Groenendyk will continue to investigate the factors
that motivate political behavior. He is particularly interested in examining the conditions
under which citizens use information efficiently and what causes information to be
Professor Groenendyk teaches courses in American government, public opinion, political
behavior, and methodology.