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Postdoctoral FellowCarnegie Mellon University
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Andrea Jones-Rooy’s research focuses on the role of information in international conflict and regime stability, situating her work at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics. Andrea’s dissertation asks how autocratic leaders, who typically have more control over the national media than most democratic leaders, use this tool of information control for both international and domestic political goals. She develops an original theory that explains that autocratic leaders face a tension between an ability to use the media to promote regime legitimacy, but a risk in losing media credibility from over-manipulation of the media. A formal decision theoretic model of the choices facing a leader in whether or not to adjust the flow of information to citizens derives several predictions. Andrea tests these predictions with a novel dataset of over twenty years of headlines in the prominent national Chinese newspaper, the People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao).
Andrea also evaluates the theory’s core mechanisms using comparative content analysis of the coverage of the early months of the Arab Spring (2010-11) in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya by national newspapers in China, France, Russia, the US, and Venezuela (all in original languages), and traces the evolution of China’s news coverage of major events in the US since 1949, as well as of natural disasters worldwide. Andrea finds that the Chinese government does seem to follow the logic of the legitimacy-credibility theory: When events are small, China is able to publish only “regime favorable” events, but as events grow in size, China also publishes politically risky events, due to the pressures of credibility. She also finds that this pattern holds in Russia and Venezuela. She additionally tests the theory of audience costs and finds little evidence that China uses the media for audience cost purposes.
Andrea’s dissertation research is one part of a broader research agenda on the effect of information control on shaping international interactions as well as leader-citizen interactions within states. In addition to statistics, game theory, and text analysis, Andrea also employs tools from Complex Systems – the study of interconnected, diverse, adaptive actors – in her research. Andrea has published two papers (with Scott E. Page) on the connection between complexity and international relations, as well as a paper on the emergence and persistence of diversity within cultures and between cultures. Andrea’s current research includes formally modeling the relationship between the media and government across regime types and expanding her empirical analysis in her dissertation both within China and to other countries.
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