Political Behavior and Digital Media

This assistant professorship is held by Prof. Dr. Karsten Donnay

This research group is part of the Digital Society Initiative (DSI) of the University of Zurich and focuses on the role of new digital (online) media for political behavior. Our aim is to not only better understand the impact of digital media channels on political processes but to also shed light on the exact mechanisms by which individuals interact, obtain information, are influenced by or influence others online. Ongoing research focuses on biased information flows online, whether through online news media or social media, but also on the role of individuals’ perceptions for how such content ultimately affects behavior.

The second main research interest of this group is in the area of computational social science more broadly. We are specifically working on developing and refining methodological approaches for quantitative research on digital media channels. This includes experimental and observational data from digital media but also the use of computational (agent-based) modeling approaches to capture systemic complexity, as well as machine/deep learning for automated text classification. The group also maintains a number of tools and software packages for data analysis and visualization, in particular for highly-resolved geographical data, that are available as open source tools to the research community.

Typical substantive and methodological interests of this group are:

  • Social influence through traditional and online media
  • Media bias and its influence on collective decision making
  • Statistical and experimental analysis on digital media
  • Machine/deep learning and automated text classification
  • Large-scale data processing and analysis
  • Causal inference in (geo-referenced) micro-level data


Thierry Schaltegger

Current research projects