Taylor Carlson

Associate Professor of Political Science
Weidenbaum Center Director of Survey Research
PhD, University of California, San Diego
BA, College of William & Mary
research interests:
  • Political Behavior
  • Political Communication
  • Political Psychology
  • American Politics
  • Experiments
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    contact info:

    mailing address:

    • Washington University
    • MSC 1063-228-207
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Carlson studies American Politics with a focus on political communication and political psychology.

    Americans are increasingly concerned about the future of democracy. The virality of misinformation in American politics has led people to question the public’s ability to navigate our complex information environment and make rational choices. At the same time, intensifying affective polarization has driven partisans farther apart, perhaps at a time when we need to come together most. Professor Carlson’s research is uniquely suited to help us understand some of these key challenges in American politics by examining the intersection of information consumption and social interactions about politics. She studies the content, process, and consequences of interpersonal political communication. By critically interrogating the process and content of both online and offline political discussion, Carlson’s work highlights the ways in which the social realities of these interactions might undermine or enhance previously theorized benefits of discussion for political behavior. Her work utilizes survey, experimental, physiological, and social media data and has appeared in published academic articles and three book manuscripts. Carlson’s most recent work builds upon her work on interpersonal political communication to tackle questions directly related to misinformation and partisan media effects.

    What Goes Without Saying

    What Goes Without Saying

    Why are political conversations uncomfortable for so many people? The current literature focuses on the structure of people's discussion networks and the frequency with which they talk about politics, but not the dynamics of the conversations themselves. In What Goes Without Saying, Taylor N. Carlson and Jaime E. Settle investigate how Americans navigate these discussions in their daily lives, with particular attention to the decision-making process around when and how to broach politics. The authors use a multi-methods approach to unpack what they call the 4D Framework of political conversation: identifying the ways that people detect others' views, decide whether to talk, discuss their opinions honestly―or not, and determine whether they will repeat the experience in the future. In developing a framework for studying and explaining political discussion as a social process, What Goes Without Saying will set the agenda for research in political science, psychology, communication, and sociology for decades to come.