Software for Social Research

I have a background in engineering which I have applied to support my sociological research by writing software to run experiments, collect and provide data, and perform data analysis. I make my work publicly available when possible. My language of choice is R, but I also have experience in Python and with mobile app development in Flutter.

Mobile apps for experiments on political conversation

I served as the lead developer for DiscussIt and UniteDem, a pair of messaging apps for mobile devices that allowed for experimental manipulations of identity labels. I and other members of the Duke Polarization Lab used them to run experiments to study the effects of party and gender labels on outcomes of political conversation. These apps allowed us to randomly pair respondents to have asynchronous text conversations with each other using their own devices on a platform that mimicked other popular messaging apps. Building them in-house allowed us to achieve substantial external validity while still retaining complete control over the platform.

In a paper published in Nature Human Behavior, we found that chats between Democrats and Republicans on DiscussIt depolarized participants, regardless of whether we labeled their partisan affiliations accurately or inaccurately.
In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, we found that manipulating gender labels in conversations between Democrats about the candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary affected participants’ influence. We found that mislabeling a woman’s gender decreased her influence and increased her propensity to be influenced, even though she did not know her gender was mislabeled–an indication of the complexity of the impacts of gender identity and expression on interaction.