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Mary McGrath

Assistant Professor of Political Science

PhD, Yale University, 2016

Political scientist Mary McGrath looks into the balance of reason and reflex underpinning our actions and beliefs: What commonalities are we able to uncover in how we evaluate and respond to the world around us? This has translated into a research agenda that covers American politics, political psychology and behavior, and political economy. She uses a range of quantitative methods to investigate processes of political and economic decision-making, opinion formation, and belief.

McGrath’s research has been published in Nature Human Behavior, Nature Climate Change, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

McGrath received her PhD in political science from Yale University. Her doctoral dissertation examined how collaboration shapes political behavior, looking at collaborative rhetoric and the relationship between perceptions of group identity and collaboration.

Current Research

How Does Collaboration Affect Political Interactions? McGrath seeks to understand how collaboration shapes political interactions and engagement, asking the following key questions: Does collaboration increase tolerance toward the collaborator? Does it increase trust? Are collaborators more persuasive? In an on-going project, McGrath investigates these questions in the context of civic education, community-oriented policing, and climate change.

Demand-Side Contributions to the Partisan Gender-Gap in Office. Do voters exhibit biases based on candidate gender, and if so, could partisan differences in candidate-gender bias contribute to the partisan gender-gap in office-holding? What explains candidate-gender bias? Is candidate-gender used as a proxy for relevant information, or is this bias a manifestation of prejudice unrelated to political reasoning.

Selected Publications


McGrath, M. Experiments on problems of climate change. 2020. Advances in Experimental Political Science. 2020. Druckman, J., & D. Green, Eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Finkel, E., C. Bail, M. Cikara, P. Ditto, S. Iyengar, S. Klar, L. Mason, M. McGrath, B. Nyhan, D. Rand, L. Skitka, J. Tucker, J. Van Bavel, C. Wang, J. Druckman. 2020. Political sectarianism in America. Science 370(6516): 533-36.

McGrath, M., and A. Gerber. 2019. Experimental evidence for a pure collaboration effect. Nature Human Behaviour 3:354–60.

Druckman, J. and M. McGrath. 2019. The evidence for motivated reasoning in climate change preference formation. Nature Climate Change 9:11119.

McGrath, M. 2017. Economic behavior and the partisan perceptual screenQuarterly Journal of Political Science 11(4): 363–83. 

Ashok, V., D. Feder, M. McGrath, and E. Hersh. 2016. The dynamic election: Patterns of early voting across time, state, party, and ageElection Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy 15(2):11528.