What are the consequences of committing violent attacks for terrorist organizations? Terrorist attacks might broaden the base of supporters by increasing the perceived group efficacy. However, terrorist attacks might also lead its supporters to believe that the organization is excessively violent or involvement may become too dangerous. This paper employs a unique dataset with 300,842 observations of 13,321 Twitter accounts linked to the Islamic State (IS), collected during a 127-day period, to empirically investigate the impact of terrorist attacks on the number of the organization's supporters. By exploiting the exogenous timing of terrorist attacks as a natural experiment, we find that the number of followers of IS-related Twitter accounts significantly reduces in the aftermath of the attacks. Additionally, we provide some suggestive evidence to disentangle two mechanisms: disengagement---a change in supporters' beliefs---and deterrence---de-mobilization due to fear. Because we do not find support for the latter, we conclude that the disengagement effect might explain our main result.

"Are Western Educated Leaders Less Prone to Initiate Militarized Disputes?" British Journal of Political Science (forthcoming)

Recent theories on the causes of war focus on how institutional and structural factors shape leaders' decisions in foreign policy. However, citizens, policy-makers, and a growing number scholars argue that leaders' background experiences may matter for both domestic and foreign policy choices. This paper contributes to an emerging body of scholarship on leaders in international relations by showing how personal attributes influence the initiation of militarized disputes. Based on the soft power theory of international experiences and the impressionable-years hypothesis of socialization, I theorize that leaders with the experience of attending a university in a Western democratic country should be less likely than non-Western educated leaders to initiate militarized interstate disputes. I test this proposition by employing a new data set, building on Archigos and LEAD, that includes background attributes of more than 900 leaders from 147 non-Western countries between 1947--2001. The results strongly support the hypothesis, even when accounting for leader selection, time-variant country and leader-level controls, other leaders' background characteristics, and country and year fixed effects. This finding lends credence to the soft power thesis of academic institutions on international sojourners, and highlights the value of considering leaders' experiences in analyses about international relations.

The relationship between district magnitude and turnout remains hotly debated, and previous studies suggest positive, negative, and nonlinear effects depending on other institutional characteristics. This article contributes to the empirical literature by conducting a quasi-experimental test on the effect of district magnitude in a context of a single nontransferable vote (SNTV) system with weak partisan ties: municipal council elections in Japan. Exploiting a credible source of exogenous variation in district magnitude and using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, we reveal that a 5-seat increase in an average-magnitude district reduces turnout by 4 percentage points, which accounts for a 6.9% drop in the size of the electorate. We reason that, in the context of SNTV with weak parties, higher district magnitude leads to information overload, which may lower voters’ incentives to turn out.

Delegate conceptions of representation require activities of legislators to reflect their constituents’ preferences. Recent research has examined the distortionary effects of lobbying activities on this representational linkage. Here, I argue that the effect of interest groups on legislators’ behavior depends on the clarity of the majority’s preferences in a district. When the electorate is narrowly divided, Members of Parliament (MPs) may choose to reap the benefits associated with interest groups as costs from defection are lowest. The results show that MP defection from constituents’ preferences is only positively associated with sectional interest group ties when the constituency is narrowly divided on an issue. Likewise, MP defection is only negatively associated with MP’s ties to cause groups when the constituency is narrowly divided on an issue. These results are important because they specify the conditions under which interest group lobbying is sufficient to override constituents’ preferences.

What are the consequences of police brutality in fighting against the Catalan secessionist movement? While Spanish authorities resorted to violence with the hope that forceful action would deter further support for separatism, recent studies of repression argue that state violence tends to backfire. I test these two plausible arguments in the context of non-lethal police brutality to prevent an illegal self-determination referendum. For this, I combine data of the local distribution of police violence during the referendum and the official results of the subsequent regional elections. Because police forces were not deployed randomly, I employ a difference-in-differences estimation with matching to evaluate the electoral consequences of violence. The results show no clear evidence that police brutality affected support for separatism or electoral mobilization in the areas that it was deployed. The lack of a clear effect sets an agenda for future research in the investigation of the conditions under which state violence affects dissenting movements.


Replication Files (forthcoming)

"The Emotional Underpinnings of Attitudes Toward Transitional Justice." 2018. Political Studies 66(2): 480–502.

What explains citizens’ attitudes toward transitional justice (TJ)? Studies that examined the support for TJ mechanisms identified three sets of factors: individual, socialization and contextual. Building on the hot cognition theory, this paper argues that the past political regime is an emotionally charged sociopolitical object encoded with its evaluative history with consequences in people’s opinion-formation process. Drawing on a specialized survey in Spain, the results first suggest that negative emotions, especially anger and fear, significantly influence the support for stronger TJ measures, even after adjusting for relevant confounders such as ideology, religiosity, or victimization. Second, the findings show that those who lack an emotional engagement toward the past regime, so-called bystanders, hold attitudes toward TJ that are indistinguishable from those who report positive feelings (pride, patriotism, and nostalgia) toward the past regime. The effects of emotions are sizable relative to other important determinants, including ideology, religiosity, and family’s ideology.

We argue that variance in district magnitude affects party system inflation by shaping the process of within- and cross-district coordination. First, at the stage of within-district coordination, electoral systems with large magnitude variance generate different party systems across districts, with larger districts having more fragmented party systems with a greater number of parties. Second, at the stage of cross-district coordination, district party systems dissimilar to each other make it more difficult for elites from different districts to engage in the projection of district parties onto national-level parties. This in turn leads to the inflation of the number of parties at the national level. Through numerical simulations and an observational study, we demonstrate that variance in district magnitude is positively associated with party system inflation.

"National Personality Traits and Regime Type: A Cross-National Study of 47 Countries." 2017. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 48(2): 195–216.

Domestic theories of democratization emphasize the role of values, interests and mobilization/opportunities as determinants of regime change. This paper takes a step back and develops a model of national personality and democratization to ascertain the indirect effect of national personality traits on worldwide variation of regime type. In particular, I theorize that personality traits influence a country’s regime type by shaping citizens’ traditional and self-expression values, which, in turn, influence the establishment and consolidation of democratic institutions.
Data from McCrae et al.’s (2005a) assessment of the Five Factor Model from 47 countries allows me to assess this hypothesis empirically.
Results reveal that countries whose societies are high in Openness to experience tend to have more democratic institutions, even after adjusting for relevant confounders: economic inequalities, economic development, technological advancement, disease stress, climate demands, and methodological characteristics of the national sample. While the effect of Extraversion on a country’s democratic institutions is also significantly positive, the inclusion of confounders weakens the reliability of this association. In an exploration of the mechanisms of these associations, a mediation analysis shows that the relationship between national Openness and democratic institutions is channeled through secular and, especially self-expression national values. The same analysis with the effect of Extraversion on democracy indicates that the association between this trait and democracy is only channeled through national self-expression values, but not national secular values.
In short, this paper constitutes a first step toward a more complete understanding of the cross-cultural psychological roots of political institutions.

"Ideological Consistency, Political Information and Elite - Mass Congruence." 2017. Social Science Quarterly 98(1): 144–161.

The literature considers the importance of political sophistication for controlling political elites, although it disregards the role of ideological consistency. The objective of this article is to gain insight into the role of citizens’ ideological consistency as either an impairment to citizens’ ability or an effective tool in bringing about elite–mass congruence.
Combining data from the European Social Survey (ESS) and the Comparative Manifesto Project (CMP) for 29 European countries, I implement an empirical strategy to disentangle the top-down and bottom-up processes of mutual influence between elites and citizens.
Consistent with the enabling (as opposed to the impairing) conception of ideological consistency, ideological consistency closes, rather than increases, the gap between the elites and the masses. Also, bottom-up models dominate top-down models regardless of electorates’ ideological consistency and information.
Empirical findings challenge the literature about the causal effect of political ignorance on the autonomy of political elites, and they urge for the inclusion of ideological consistency as a crucial factor for a better understanding of the positional gaps between the elites and the masses.

Does personality influence attitudes toward secessionism? Personality traits are important determinants of a wide range of political attitudes and behaviors. Prior work has mainly focused on the study of personality during regular processes of democratic political systems (e.g., vote choice, turnout, information acquisition, etc.). By contrast, this paper assesses that personality traits have an influence over the decision of individuals to support a secessionist movement.
To test this, I rely on a survey distributed to more than 33,.000 respondents in Catalonia, a region with a salient secessionist movement.
Beyond the effects of demographic characteristics, political factors, descent-based attributes, economic considerations, and even identity attachments, the results confirm that the personality trait of Agreeableness is associated with supporting the Catalan secessionist movement. Although less consistently, there is some preliminary evidence that extraverted individuals are more likely to support the movement.
I conclude that combining insights from political science, sociology and psychology in the study of dispositional and situational determinants of attitudes towardstoward secessionism is fertile research ground.

This article empirically assesses the validity of current theoretical models of attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy in the Asia-Pacific region. This paper takes representative data from the World Values Survey and implements a multilevel model to test five of the main theories in the literature: the human capital theory, the social capital theory, the political orientation theory, the contact/group threat theory and the economic competition theory. The results from the analysis lend credence to the important effects of human capital, social capital and political-ideological variables on respondents’ attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. However, the results provide mixed and weak evidence for the contact/group threat theory and the role of economic determinants. Importantly, economic determinants tend to be more powerful in shaping people’s attitudes toward immigration policy than shaping attitudes toward immigrants as people. Altogether, this article sheds new light on the validity of current theoretical models based on western countries for other areas of the world. Finally, the results from the paper also support the usefulness of non-economic, as opposed to purely economic, models in the understanding of individuals’ attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Using the case of FC Barcelona and Catalonia, this paper examines the relationship between national identity, social institutions and political values. Through different methods of qualitative research, we present an intergenerational comparison between age cohorts to capture continuities and discontinuities in the discursive linkage between FC Barcelona and national feelings of belonging. As the context has changed, the identity construction process should have changed in conjunction with it. The results point to how the old cohort tended to use Barça, as an escape valve, intertwined with Catalan nationalism and political freedom. In contrast, the young ones reproduce the old discourse leaving aside those political values formerly attached to the idea of Barça.

Does the interaction between context and individual-level features affect political attitudes? By using the case of Catalonia, a receiver region of international and national immigration since the fifties, this paper intersects a classic acculturation model and a newly reemerging literature in political science on contextual determinants of political behaviour to analyze how context affects subjective national identity. Results reveal that environment matters. The percentage of Spain-born population in the municipality is statistically significant to account for variance in the subjective national identity, even after controlling for age, sex, origin, language and left–right orientation and other contextual factors. This conclusion suggests that researchers should not underestimate the direct effect of the environment on feelings of belonging in contexts of rival identities.

What makes democratic institutions work efficiently? Robert Putnam argued in Making Democracy Work that a mixture of political participation and immersion in associative and social networks in the community, conceptualised as ‘civic community’ or ‘social capital’, is the explanation. Ever since its publication, many questions have arisen about the validity of Putnam's theory. Among the most relevant concerns stands the influence of the Italian Communist Party on Putnam's empirical tests. This paper aims to fill the gap left in the literature by testing Putnam's hypothesis against the political party in the regional government and the PCI's electoral support. Supporting Putnam, this paper finds that variations in the quality of democratic governments in Italy's regions are a function of civic community even after adjusting for the presence of the Italian Communist Party.

Chapter Books

"Putting Groups Back Into the Study of Political Intolerance." (with James L. Gibson and Christopher Claassen). 2018. In At the Forefront of Political Psychology: Essays in Honor of John L. Sullivan

Una de las características básicas del sistema político español contemporáneo es la existencia de subsistemas de partidos diferenciados en varias comunidades autónomas. El principal rasgo distintivo de estos subsistemas consiste en la fuerte implantación de una o, incluso, varias fuerzas políticas específicas con una presencia mucho menor en la arena electoral del conjunto del país: los partidos de ámbito no estatal (PANE). Junto a las características distintivas de los regímenes electorales autonómicos respecto al ámbito de competición electoral estatal, la existencia y arraigo de los PANE se explica, principalmente, por la presencia de fracturas o divisorias (cleavages) de conflicto político etno-territorial en varias comunidades autónomas; fracturas que han adquirido un papel muy relevante en la lógica del sistema de partidos y del sistema político del conjunto del país.

Other Publications (editor-reviewed journals, WP series, etc.)

In light of the contemporary political landscape, it is clear that the secessionist aspirations of Catalonia will invariably clash with the Spanish government’s long-term policy of denial. However, making sense of the rational strategies on the part of both parties by means of game theoretical tools may shed some light on new paths of dialogues and understanding that cannot be seen by the naked eye. This essay proceeds as follows. Firstly, I show the sequence of the games starting from the meeting between Artur Mas, leader of CiU and prime minister of Catalonia, and Mariano Rajoy, leader of PP and prime minister of Spain, in September of 2012 and the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia of November 2012. Next, I travel to the future and predict the nature of the legal and constitutional dispute between Catalonia and Spain, the referendum, and a prospective post-referendum scenario. Finally, I provide some conclusions and discuss the implications of my findings.

This paper uses as a main theoretical framework an identity-based Berry’s model of acculturation. It attempts to incorporate a new component usually forgotten in the study of the migrants’ national identity, the context of reception. It is common to find in the literature applications of acculturation models and analysis about how the national identity of the immigrants evolves over time where the context of reception is taken as a constant for the entire population. However, we know that people’s characteristics are unevenly distributed and that people tend to live around their similar. Is then the context of reception irrelevant for explaining the tendency of acculturation of the newcomers? How is the individual subjective national identity affected by the origin of the people around the subjects? Is the affection over the subjective national identity turned into distinct nationalist vote? This research gives an answer to these questions by using the case of Catalonia.