Taylor Carlson

Associate Professor of Political Science in Arts & Sciences

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Taylor Carlson studies American politics with a focus on political communication and political psychology.

Carlson’s research focuses on understanding the content and consequences of interpersonal political communication. Her research is uniquely suited to help us understand some of the key challenges in American politics — including misinformation and intensifying polarization — by examining the intersection of information consumption and social interactions about politics.

Through the Grapevine: Socially Transmitted Information and Distorted Democracy” is Carlson’s third book in a series that has examined how interpersonal political communication contributes to the state of American politics today. In this book, published in July 2024 by The University of Chicago Press, Carlson examines how everyday people — not just the media and politicians — contribute to the creation and spread of misinformation, increased polarization, and political engagement through the conversations they have with friends, colleagues and family about politics.

She is also co-author of “What Goes Without Saying: Navigating Political Discussions in America,” published in May 2022 by Cambridge University Press, and “Talking Politics: Political Discussion Networks and the New American Electorate,” published in April 2020 by Oxford University Press.

Additionally, her research has been published in the Journal of Politics, American Political Science Review and Political Behavior, among other academic journals.

In the media


Book explores consequences of political conversations

Book explores consequences of political conversations

In her new book, political scientist Taylor Carlson, in Arts & Sciences, explores how political information changes as it flows from the news media to person to person. Her research shows that socially transmitted information becomes sparse, biased, less accurate and mobilizing — fueling a “distorted democracy.”
Navigating political discussions at holiday gatherings

Navigating political discussions at holiday gatherings

Planning to stay mum around the holiday table when the subject of politics comes up? Political scientist Taylor Carlson, in Arts & Sciences, says we would be better off learning to have open, respectful conversations with one another — especially with those who have opposing viewpoints.