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Emily Thorson

Emily Thorson

Contact Information:


312 Eggers Hall

Emily Thorson

Assistant Professor, Political Science Department

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2013

Areas of Expertise

American politics, misinformation and misperceptions, experimental methodology, political psychology, media and politics

Research Grant Awards and Projects

The Invented State: Systematic Policy Misperceptions in the American Public

Citizens' ability to make reasoned, informed political decisions lies at the heart of democracy, and the presence of misinformation poses a serious threat to informed political participation. This book manuscript finds that misperceptions about public policy are widespread and can substantially shape political attitudes. I call this set of policy misperceptions the "invented state,'' building on Suzanne Mettler's observation that many domestic policies are largely invisible to the public. I show that because politicians and the media fail to give citizens the fundamental background knowledge they need about these policies, misperceptions about them flourish. Citizens, faced with a dearth of accurate information, create the invented state: a systematic set of misperceptions about how government operates. While most work on misinformation suggests it is difficult to correct misperceptions about politics, my findings suggest that citizens are surprisingly responsive to corrections about policy. I argue that the very factors that make the invented state possible -- namely, politicians' and media's reluctance to discuss complex policy issues -- also mean that these issues are not deeply intertwined with partisan politics, making them less subject to partisan-driven motivated reasoning.

Thorson, Emily and Serazio, Michael. (Under Review). “Sports Fandom and Political Attitudes”

Thorson, Emily and Shaker, Lee. (Under Review) “New Format, Same Audience: Online Video and the Evolving News Industry”

Thorson, Emily. (Under Review) “Some of My Best Friends are Poor? Income Misperceptions and Policy Attitudes” 


Thorson, Emily. “Comparing Approaches to Journalistic Fact-Checking” in Misinformation and Mass Audiences Ed. Southwell, Brian; Sheble, Laura, and Thorson, Emily. Forthcoming, University of Texas Press.

Amazeen, Michelle A., Thorson, Emily, Muddiman, Ashley, and Graves, Lucas. “Correcting Political and Consumer Misperceptions: The Effectiveness and Effects of Rating Scale Versus Contextual Correction Formats.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. November, 2016.

Thorson, Emily. “Belief Echoes: The Persistent Effects of Corrected Misinformation” Political Communication. November, 2015.

Thorson, Emily. “Beyond Opinion Leaders: How Attempts to Persuade Foster Awareness and Campaign Learning.” Communication Research. February, 2014.

Emily A. Thorson,  Johnston, Richard; Thorson, Emily; & Gooch, Andrew. “The Economy and the Dynamics of the 2008 Presidential Campaign.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties. March, 2010. Thorson, Emily. “Changing Patterns of News Consumption and Participation.” Information, Communication, and Society June, 2008.