Elizabeth Levy Paluck Wins Heinz I. Eulau Award

Saturday, Oct 2, 2010

Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, was the recipient of the Heinz I. Eulau Award for the best journal article published in American Political Science Review during the previous year. With Donald P. Green (Yale University), Paluck co-authored the article “Deference, Dissent, and Dispute Resolution: An Experimental Intervention Using Mass Media to Change Norms and Behavior in Rwanda.

Situated in post-genocide Rwanda, the study examined an  attempt to shift political culture in Rwanda. In particular, the authors assessed the impact of a radio program aimed at discouraging blind obedience and reliance on direction from authorities, and at promoting independent thought and collective action in problem solving. Over the course of one year, this radio program or a comparable program dealing with HIV was randomly presented to pairs of communities, including general population communities and communities of genocide survivors, Twa people, and imprisoned g´enocidaires. Changes in individual attitudes, perceived community norms, and deliberative behaviors were assessed using closed-ended interviews, focus group discussions, role-play exercises, and unobtrusive measures of collective decision-making. Although the radio program had little effect on many kinds of beliefs and attitudes, it had a substantial impact on listeners’ willingness to express dissent and the ways they resolved communal problems.