Roosevelt Scholars examine public opinion polling from multiple perspectives

May 03, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Eliana Hadjiandreou and Rosemary Pang, graduate students in Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, will use data from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s Mood of the Nation Poll to advance their skills and research this summer, thanks to funding from the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Graduate Scholarship.

The poll offers unique insights into American politics by allowing recipients to respond to questions in their own words. It also provides a valuable data set that’s applicable to scholars across the social sciences.

The scholarship was created in 2018 with a gift from Susan Welch, professor of political science and member of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s Board of Visitors, to support students who are enrolled or planning to enroll in one of the College of the Liberal Arts’ graduate programs and are actively involved with the McCourtney Institute.

Eliana Hadjiandreou, a Ph.D. candidate in social psychology.

Eliana Hadjiandreou, a doctoral candidate in social psychology at Penn State.

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Hadjiandreou is a doctoral candidate in social psychology and part of the Empathy and Moral Psychology Lab. Her work examines norms and perceptions around empathy, compassion, and selfishness, with a particular interest on how such perceptions can affect our willingness to include others in our moral circles and engage in dialogue across different group divides.

Hadjiandreou’s work was previously supported by a McCourtney Institute research grant. This summer, she hopes to use the Mood of the Nation Poll data to examine differences in beliefs across political parties and how people from one party perceive the other.

“I want to examine whether such differences may be motivated by nature and how they relate to partisan attachment and identification with a political party,” Hadjiandreou said. “I am also interested in implementing additional survey materials to assess perceptions of effort for engaging with empathy across political groups.”

Rosemary Pang, a Ph.D. candidate in political science and social data analytics.

Rosemary Pang, a doctoral candidate in political science and social data analytics at Penn State.

IMAGE: Provided

Pang is a doctoral candidate in political science and social data analytics. She studies politics in autocracies, with an emphasis on party institutionalization and corruption. Her research focuses on computational social science, natural language processing, social survey and measurement. She said that working on the Mood of the Nation Poll will help develop her text analysis skills and give her valuable experience working with open-ended survey data.

“I would like to study how the 2020 presidential election influenced people’s attitudes,” Pang said. “For example, do people have higher confidence about where America is headed in the next 12 months? What are the factors that influence their confidence? How do different groups think about voter registration?”

The Mood of the Nation Poll is the McCourtney Institute’s largest research project. It utilizes open-ended questions that allow participants to respond in their own words, express what’s on their minds and provide unique observations on contemporary American politics. Poll data is used for both academic research and public-facing reports about political trends.

Last Updated May 04, 2021