William (Zev) Berger
Assistant Professor of Practice
Social Sciences 111B
I am a political theorist that works at the intersection of political epistemology and political psychology. I employ a broad range of methods, including game theory, computational modeling, and experimental design and statistical modeling, to weigh in on questions regarding not only how we think and feel, but also the upshot of those patterns for our normative aspirations for the world. I'm one of a few, but growing number of political theorists who work both normatively and empirically. My research interests include:
- Democratic theory and epistemic democracy
- Political epistemology and psychology
- Social norms
- Trust, inequality, and polarization
- Political sentimentality and affect
Regarding Honors Advising:
I'm excited to work with undergraduates to mentor and direct their honors' theses. If we work together the thesis will take the form of a 40-60 page research proposal posing a narrow puzzle coming out of a focused set of contemporary academic literature in the domain of PPEL. This set of literature from which the puzzle or question emerges should constitute an extant research program, so authors should be citing each other to some degree. Rather than providing a full or satisfying solution to the puzzle, the thesis will articulate a "next step" to extend this research program, stopping short of actually implementing the research program. The resulting thesis might be instrumental in crafting graduate research statements, grant proposals, or even serve as the kernel of a prospectus. In limited cases, students may collect original data.
In less formal language, most of the work will be reading academic papers and books written in the last 30 years (some older, but mostly this time frame) and getting very comfortable with Google Scholar. The rest will be writing and revising the thesis. And collecting data, if and only if you're motivated to do so. But you won't actually be attempting to provide a full answer to the question you're posing. Crafting and articulating the research question will be the extent of the project.