Northwestern Events Calendar


American Politics Workshop: Jaime Settle

When: Friday, January 15, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Where: Online
Webcast Link

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Erica Canavan   (847) 491-7451

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Global & Civic Engagement


The American Politics Workshop hosts Dr. Jaime Settle for a presentation based on:

Opting Out: Why Americans Avoid Political Talk 

Why, despite high rates of reported political discussion, do so many Americans dislike talking about politics? And how do the mixed considerations people hold about discussion affect the way that they communicate? We argue that we need to consider the psychological experience of political discussion as navigating a social process that is rife with potential challenges to our sense of self and our relationships with others. Variation in the cognitive resources of political conversation, such as interest or knowledge, or in instrumental goals related to learning and persuasion cannot fully explain people’s motivation to seek or avoid discussion, although considerations related to information certainly are part of the story. Discussion is an inherently social behavior, and we argue that without assessing the social factors influencing the decision to talk about politics, we can’t fully understand who talks about politics, with whom, under what conditions, and with what consequence.  

This book is an effort to open the lid on the processes that lead up to a political discussion and the implications of the conversations that do happen. Our approach is to build on what we already know about political discussion, focusing on the gaps in our knowledge resulting from untested assumptions and limited methodologies in previous work. We apply new measurement techniques in order to better understand the decision-making processes that lead to the initiation of discussion, the nuances of the interactions that do occur, and the consequences of those conversations on a wide set of political and social outcomes.


Jaime Settle is an Associate Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary. Her research focuses on how political interactions—in both face-to-face and online contexts—affect the way individuals perceive conflict in their environment, evaluate other people, and engage within the political system.

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