Brianna A Smith

Brianna Smith is currently a PhD candidate in the Political Science department at the University of Minnesota, in the American Politics and Methodology subfields, focusing on Political Psychology. Their broad research agenda applies psychological theories to the essential problems of public opinion: how people form attitudes, how these attitudes affect political participation, and how elite rhetoric impacts both public opinion and political behavior. Their dissertation focuses on how threat affects political behavior, attitudes, and worldview. In particular, how the framing of threat as preventable vs inevitable causes people to change the way they think about and participate in politics. As mainstream politicians rely more and more on threat to gain support, it is important to understand what effect their rhetoric has on the public.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • M.A.: Political Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 2015.
  • BA: Political Science, Psychology, German Studies, Tufts University, Boston, MA, 2012.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Public Opinion and Political Behavior
  • Survey Methodology
  • Political Psychology
  • American Politics
  • Experimental Methods
Courses Taught
  • POL 3766: Political Psychology of Mass Behavior
  • POL 3085: Quantitative Analysis in Political Science
  • POL 3769: Public Opinion and Voting Behavior
  • POL 3767: Political Psychology of Elite Decision Making
Research & Professional Activities


  • Institute for Qualitative and Mixed-Methods Research attendee: 2015
  • Research Assistant for Dr. Lawrence Jacobs (Humphrey School of Public Affairs) and Dr. Suzanne Mettler (Cornell University Department of Government): 2013 - 2015
  • Research Assistant on the Poll Workers and Election Security project, headed by Dr. Lawrence Jacobs, Doug Chapin, Dana Chisnell, and Whitney Quesenberry (Center for Civic Design): 2013
  • “Gay” or “Homosexual”? The Implications of Social Category Labels for the Structure of Mass Attitudes. Brianna A. Smith, Zein Murib, Matthew Motta, Timothy H. Callaghan, and Marissa Theys. American Politics Research, 2017. Link
    Covered by the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog here.
  • Looking for Answers: Identifying Search Behavior and Improving Knowledge-Based Data Quality in Online Surveys. Matthew P. Motta, Timothy H. Callaghan, and Brianna Smith. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 2016. Link
  • Chen, Philip G., Jacob Appleby, Eugene Borgida, Timothy H. Callaghan, Pierce Ekstrom, Christina E. Farhart, Elizabeth Housholder, Hannah Kim, Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz, Howard Lavine, Matthew D. Luttig, Ruchika Mohanty, Aaron Rosenthal, Geoff Sheagley, Brianna A. Smith, Joseph A. Vitriol and Allison Williams. "The Minnesota Multi-Investigator 2012 Presidential Election Panel Study." Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 14.1 (2014): 78-104.
  • University of Minnesota Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship, 2017 - 2018
  • Graduate Research Partnership Program Fellowship (GRPP), College of Liberal Arts, 2015 - 2016