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Fay Lomax Cook

Professor Emerita of Human Development and Social Policy

PhD, Social Policy, University of Chicago, 1977

Cook directed the Institute for Policy Research for 16 years from 1996–2012.  From 2014–18, she served as Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and headed the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE). Currently, she is professor emerita of human development and social policy in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy and an IPR faculty fellow emerita. She also serves as Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the National Academy for Social Insurance in Washington, D.C.

Her research focuses on the interrelationships between public opinion and social policy, the politics of public policy, public deliberation, and the dynamics of public and elite support for social programs, particularly programs for older Americans such as Social Security and Medicare. She is the author of many scholarly articles and book chapters as well as five books, including Support for the American Welfare State: The Views of Congress and the Public (Columbia University Press) and  Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America (University of Chicago Press).

She is past president of the Gerontological Society of America and an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, where she is currently serving as its Distinguished Visiting Fellow until December 2020. She is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, and has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.

While at NSF, she served as co-chair for the White House National Science and Technology Council's interagency Social and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Committee on Science and as co-chair of the federal interagency committee to assess research needs related to the nation’s opioid crisis.  She serves on the Visiting Committee of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

Selected Publications


Jacobs, L., F. L. Cook, and M. X. Delli Carpini. 2009. Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Cook, F. L., with J. Manza and B. Page, eds. 2002. Navigating Public Opinion: Polls, Policy, and the Future of American Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cook, F. L., with E. Barrett. 1992. Support for the American Welfare State: The Views of Congress and the Public. New York: Columbia University Press.

Selected Journal Articles and Chapters

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F. L. Cook. 2015. Citizens’, scientists’, and policy advisors’ beliefs about global warming. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 658(1): 271–95.

Cook, F. L., B. Page, and R. Moskowitz. 2014. Political engagement by wealthy Americans. Political Science Quarterly 129(3): 381–98.

Cook, F. L., and R. Moskowitz. 2014. The Great Divide: Elite and mass opinion about Social Security. In The New Politics of Old Age Policy, ed. R. Hudson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F. L. Cook. 2014. The influence of partisan motivated reasoning on public opinion. Political Behavior 36(2): 235–62.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F. L. Cook. 2014. How frames can undermine support for scientific adaptations: Politicization and the status quo bias. Public Opinion Quarterly 78(1): 1–26.

Bolsen, T., J. Druckman, and F. L. Cook. 2014. Communication and collective actions: A survey experiment on motivating energy conservation in the U.S. Journal of Experimental Political Science 1(1): 24–38.

Cook, F. L. 2011. The need for public deliberation: Giving the public a voice on affordable health insurance. Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law 36(5): 879–85. 

Cook, F. L., L. Jacobs, and D. Kim. 2010. Trusting what you know: Information, knowledge, and confidence in Social SecurityJournal of Politics 72(2): 397–412.

Cook, F. L., and M. Czaplewski. 2009. Public opinion and social insurance: The American experience. In Social Insurance and Social Justice: Social Security, Medicare, and the Campaign Against Entitlements, ed. L. Rogne, C. Estes, B. Grossman, B. Hollister, and E. Solway, 250–78. New York: Springer.

Bolsen, T., and Cook, F. L. 2008. Public opinion on energy policy 1974-2006. Public Opinion Quarterly 72(2): 364–88.

Cook, F. L., with L. Jacobs and M. Delli Carpini. 2007. Who deliberates? Discursive participation in America. In Can the People Govern? Deliberation, Participation, and Democracy, ed. S. Rosenberg, 25–40. New York: MacMillan.

Cook, F. L. 2005. Navigating pension policy in the United States: From the politics of consensus to the politics of dissensus about Social Security. 2005. Tocqueville Review 26(2): 37–66.

Cook, F. L., with M. Delli Carpini and L. Jacobs. 2004. Public deliberation, discursive participation, and citizen engagement. In Annual Review of Political Science 7, ed. N. W. Polsby, 315–45. Palo Alto, Calif.: Annual Reviews.

Cook, F. L., with J. Manza. 2002. A democratic polity? Three views of policy responsiveness to public opinion in the United States. American Politics Research 30(6): 630–67.

Cook, F. L., with J. Barabas and B. Page. 2002. Invoking public opinion: Policy elites and Social Security. Public Opinion Quarterly 66(2): 235–64.