Melissa Sands

Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Merced

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About Melissa

Sands’ research examines how the people, places, and local institutions that individuals encounter as they go about their daily lives affect their political and civic behavior. Her current work focuses on the consequences of exposure to inequality on people’s attitudes about taxation and redistribution. She also specializes in experimental and quasi-experimental methods and spatial/geographic analysis. In addition, she has worked for various non-profit organizations, political advocacy groups, and elected officials.


How Citizen Attachment to Neighborhoods Helps to Improve Municipal Services and Public Spaces

  • Daniel O'Brien
  • Dietmar Offenhuber
  • Jessica Baldwin-Philippi
  • Eric Gordon


"Who Wants to Tax a Millionaire? Exposure to Inequality Reduces Support for Redistribution," American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, 2016.

Uses a placebo-controlled field experiment to show that in a real-world setting exposure to inequality decreases affluent individuals' willingness to redistribute.

"‘Eyes’ on the Street: What Public Camera Feed Data Can Teach Us about Civic and Political Behavior," American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, 2015.

Introduces a new type of data that is increasingly available to social science researchers – geo-located real-time pedestrian traffic counts – and presents several social science applications that describe the relationship between space and ‘civic-ness’ in a highly walkable urban setting.