Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Content and Context: Three Essays on Information in Politics

Cook, Ian (2016) Content and Context: Three Essays on Information in Politics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (887kB)


This dissertation explores the implications of information asymmetries in three specific
political environments: primary campaign speeches; negotiating behavior; and testimony
delivered in a congressional hearing. First, dog whistling can dramatically affect the
outcome of elections, despite observers never being sure it actually occurred. I build
a model that addresses how a whistle operates, and explore implications on candidate
competition. I find that whistling lets candidates distinguish themselves from competitors
in the minds of voters. Second, political negotiation frequently looks like two sides staring
each other down, where neither side wishes to concede, claiming that doing so would incur
the wrath of voters. Little theory or evidence exists to explain how voters allocate blame
for different outcomes. We conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate how anticipation
of blame drives negotiating behavior, and how observers allocate blame. We find that
the presence of an observer has little effect on standoff outcomes but appears to shorten
the duration of standoffs. Third, while congressional hearings give legislators a national
stage on which to score political points by publicly chastising high-level bureaucrats, and
gives lobbyists a forum to demonstrate their access and importance to policymakers, less
clear is how well hearings serve the purposes of oversight. I address this question through
automated text analysis of hearings in the 105th − 112th Congresses. I show that the
oversight function of hearings is only effective when it is least likely to be used: when the
congressional committee and the bureaucrat agree on policy


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Cook, Ianianpcook@gmail.comIPC4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWoon, Jonathanwoon@pitt.eduWOON
Committee MemberKanthak, Kristinkanthak@pitt.eduKANTHAK
Committee MemberKrause, Georgegkrause@pitt.eduGKRAUSE
Committee MemberShotts,
Date: 1 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 March 2016
Approval Date: 1 June 2016
Submission Date: 10 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 160
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: politics, campaigns, dog whistling, hearings, negotiation, blame, experiment, text analysis, formal model
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 15:32
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item