Berinsky

Adam J. Berinsky

Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Expertise:
  • Civic Engagement
  • Public Sector Reforms
  • Voting

About Adam

Berinsky’s research is primarily focused on public political opinion and behavior, and the relationship between the public and elites.  He studies what surveys can, and cannot, reveal about public opinion, how these polls are reflected in elite behavior and policymaking, how these opinions are shaped by political and social environments, and citizen engagement and perception.

In addition to his research, Berinsky directs the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab and has been involved as an academic affiliate with the Office of Evaluation Sciences  in the General Services Administration. The Office of Evaluation is a team of applied experts from the social sciences working directly with federal agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of new evidence-based interventions on program outcomes and enable government to make informed decisions. He has also given talks to the team and is currently involved in designing information campaigns around vaccine uptake.

Publications

Silent Voices: Opinion Polls and Political Representation in America (Princeton University Press, 2004).

Argues that the process used to aggregate public opinion through surveys inherently biases how scholars and policymakers view public preferences.  Focuses specifically on the role of “don’t know” answers, in addition to discussing how citizens form and express opinions broadly.

In Time of War: Understanding Public Opinion, from World War II to Iraq (University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Examines public responses to wartime crises in a modern political context, using decades of survey data.  Presents evidence that, contrary to the common wisdom, wartime public opinion is not shaped by defining events, but by the same judgements and interests that affect peacetime opinion formation.

"Rumors and Health Care Reform: Experiments in Political Misinformation" British Journal of Political Science 47 (2015): 241-162.

Explores the “death panel” rumor surrounding the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and shows that corrections from unexpected sources, in this case Republicans, can be the most effective at combating political rumors.

"Measuring Public Opinion with Surveys" Annual Review of Political Science 20 (2017): 309-329.

Reviews the existing literature on survey methodology, with a focus on two major questions: who to interview, looking at challenges faced by researchers in collecting a representative sample, and what to ask, discussing the types of questions and strategies researchers can use to meaningfully measure public opinion.

In the News

Adam J. Berinsky's research on fake news discussed in Philip GolingaiAdam J. Berinsky, "In the Mood for Lies," The Star Online, April 21, 2018.
Adam J. Berinsky quoted in Rod Watson, "Rod Watson: Early Voting Alone Won't Increase New York's Turnout" Buffalo News, March 22, 2018.
Adam J. Berinsky's research on fake news discussed in "Researchers Call for Large-Scale Scientific Investigation into Fake News," EurekAlert!, March 8, 2018.
Adam J. Berinsky's research on Alan BoyleAdam J. Berinsky, "Scientists Verify That Fake News Outruns Truth on Twitter — and Call for a Fix," GeekWire, March 9, 2018.
Adam J. Berinsky quoted on political rumors in Edward Burmila, "Why Fake News Works" The Week, November 3, 2017.
Guest to discuss fake news on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Adam J. Berinsky, October 13, 2017.
Guest to discuss fake news and the government on Full Frontal News with Samantha Bee, Adam J. Berinsky, October 12, 2017.
"Poll Shows False Obama Beliefs a Function of Partisanship," Adam J. Berinsky, Huffington Post, September 13, 2010.
"Making Voting Easier Doesn’t Increase Turnout," Adam J. Berinsky, Stanford Social Innovation Review, February 8, 2016.