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Erik C. Nisbet
Associate Professor; Owen L. Coon Endowed Professor of Policy Analysis and Communication
Communication Studies

Erik C. Nisbet

Erik C. Nisbet is the Owen L. Coon Endowed Professor of Policy Analysis & Communication and director of the Center for Communication & Public Policy in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. His research lies at the intersection of communication, public opinion, and public policy in the areas of science, technology, and environmental policy, governance and elections, and international security. An expert on cross-national survey methodology and field experiments, Erik has led research projects in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Iran, France, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, and several Arab countries. His research has been supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of State.

Erik’s scholarship centers on three broad theoretical questions: 1) how strongly held partisan, national, religious, or ethnic identities bias the processing of media or persuasive messages and the consequences for policy attitudes and behavior, 2) causes and consequences of online information-seeking and expression in authoritarian and non-democratic contexts, and 3) how macro contextual factors interact with individual differences or behaviors to explain heterogeneity in communication processes and outcomes.


Ph.D. Communication and Comparative Politics, Cornell University
M.S. Communication, Cornell University
B.A. Government and International Relations, Cornell University


  • Director, Center for Communication & Public Policy
  • Non-residential faculty fellow, USC Center on Public Diplomacy
  • Non-residential faculty affiliate, OSU Mershon Center for International Security Studies
  • Co-Principal Investigator, Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP)

Recent Academic Publications

Dal, A. and Nisbet, E.C. (in press). To share or not to share? How emotional judgements drive online political expression in high-risk contests. Communication Research

Nisbet, E.C. and Kamenchuk, O. (2019). The psychology of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns and implications for the future of public diplomacy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy. 14(1-2), 65-82

Wojcieszak, M.E., Nisbet, E.C., Kremer, L., Behrouzian, G., Glynn, C. (2019). What drives media use in autocratic regimes? Extending selective exposure theory to Iran. International Journal of Press Politics 24(1), 69-91

Gunther, R., Beck, P.A., Nisbet, E.C. (2019). Fake News’ and the Defection of 2012 Obama Voters in the 2016 Presidential Election. Electoral Studies. 61

Guo, T., Nisbet, E.C., Martin, J. (2019). Identifying mechanisms of environmental decision-making: How ideology and geographic proximity influence public support for regulating agricultural runoff to curb harmful algal blooms. Journal of Environmental Management. 241 (1), 264-272

Published Essays and Analysis

The Conversation: American influence could take the hit as Putin, Zelenskiy try to make peace in Ukraine (2019)

The Conversation: What Ukrainians think about Trump and his ‘quid pro quo’ in 3 charts (2019)

The Conversation: Trump may owe his 2016 victory to ‘fake news,’ new study suggests (2018)

The Conversation: After summit Russians like Trump more, Americans less (2018)

The Conversation: 3 charts explain how Russians see Trump and US (2018)

Center for Public Diplomacy Blog: Stoic Skepticism: How Russians Anticipate the Trump-Putin Summit (2018)

Vox: The 2016 ground game from the voters’ perspective (2018)

The Conversation: Why Russians support Putin’s foreign policy (2016)

The Conversation: The tragedy of Turkish democracy in five acts (2016)

The Conversation: Is internet freedom a tool for democracy or authoritarianism? (2016)

The Conversation: How Russia is building a psychological firewall against the West (2015)

Washington Post: Biased interpretations of science? Liberal do it, too. (2015)

Recent media interviews

FiveThirtyEight: Most Americans haven’t stopped trust scientists (May 27, 2020).

USA Today: You’re going to face a tsunami of disinformation again this election, experts warn (February, 24, 2020).

USC Annenberg: Emotion and Disinformation (October 3, 2019).

The Globe Post: US falls behind EU in responding to disinformation campaigns (August 3, 2019)

Associated Press: Deepfake videos pose a threat, but ‘dumbfakes’ may be worse (July 19, 2019)

BYU Radio: Why do people fall for false stories? Emotions (May 29, 2019)

Spectrum News 1: Many to blame for misinformation online (May 3, 2019).