Faculty Research

Power Differences in the Construal of a Crisis: The Immediate Aftermath of September 11, 2001
In this research, we examine the relationship between power and three characteristics of construal-abstraction, valence, and certainty-in individuals' verbatim reactions to the events of September 11, 2001 and during the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. We conceptualize power as a form of social distance and find that position power (but not expert power) was positively associated with the use of language that was more abstract (vs. concrete), positive (vs. negative), and certain (vs. uncertain). These effects persist after controlling for temporal distance, geographic distance, and impression management motivation. Our results support central and corollary predictions of Construal Level Theory (Liberman, Trope, & Stephan, 2007; Trope & Liberman, 2003) in a high-consequence, real-world context, and our method provides a template for future research in this area outside of the laboratory.

Capstone: In the Field

Determining the Empirical Impact of Corporate Independent Expenditures on Elections and Political Integrity (2011)

Faculty: Charles Brecher, Maria Doulis

Team: Richard Lee, Manuel Morales, Alexandra Nigolian, Natalie Pregibon, Emily Ryder

The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law is a non­partisan think tank that combines public policy and public interest law to advocate for measurable legislative and legal changes that advance fundamental issues of democracy and jus­tice in the legal sector. Following the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, the Brennan Center for Justice commissioned a Capstone team to examine the impact that corporate independent expenditures have on repre­sentative democracy. To understand the effect, the Capstone team compared trends in democratic indicators such as voter turnout, electoral competitiveness, and corruption convictions across states with varying historical restrictions on cor­porate independent expenditures. The information was compiled and analyzed to support the Brennan Center's campaign finance litigation efforts.

Alumni in Action