Research

Working papers:

"Does Candidates' Media Exposure Affect Vote Shares? Evidence From Pope Breaking

News" [Revise & Resubmit, Journal of Public Economics] [Working paper]

Abstract:

Does media visibility during campaign help candidates to win the elections? I study the causal impact of politicians' media exposure during the race on their vote share, exploiting an exogenous change in coverage during the Italian 2013 electoral campaign. Right before the election, the Pope Benedict XVI suddenly resigned and broadcast coverage of politics markedly dropped. Only five days of lower visibility of the right-wing leader and TV tycoon Berlusconi (-26 percentage points) caused a 2 percentage points dip in his vote share, and lead to his defeat by 0.4 percentage points. Following the TV coverage disruption, part of Berlusconi's electorate resorted to Internet for political news, and later favored a new party with Internet-centred propaganda.


In progress:

Political economy & media:

"Visual Bias" ["Best paper award" of the 2021/2022 Econ Job Market, awarded by EEA & UniCredit Foundation.][Updated draft coming soon]

Abstract:

This paper studies the role of images in online news, showing how news media exploit leading pictures to influence readers’ processing of the issues. I document two relevant facts. First, the US news’ visual language is distinctive of the sources’ political leaning and significantly polarized, to an extent comparable to the documented verbal polarization of US Congress in recent years. For this analysis, I construct a visual vocabulary of graphic features and apply a dictionary-based method to study the visual language polarization in the leading images published in US news between December 2019 and December 2020. Second, such visual partisanship is an expression of political media bias: in a survey experiment, individuals exposed to identical news pieces but leading pictures with opposite partisanship formulate significantly different opinions, which are slanted towards the images' respective ideological poles. I find that news’ visual bias causes a significant increase in issue polarization of the public. The slanting effect of images interacts with readers’ prior, and audiences on both sides of the political spectrum react more distinctly to pictures aligned with their viewpoint. This pattern implies that the polarizing effect of visual bias is further exacerbated if readers' source their news exclusively from like-minded outlets, as in information echo-chambers.


[Draft available upon request]

"Strategic Media" , with Andrea Mattozzi [In progress].

Social norms & health:

"What drives prosocial outcomes? A field experiment on registrations as organ donors".

(Awarded the EIEF 2020 Grant)

Project description:

I conduct a large-scale field experiment in about 500 municipalities in Italy to study the role of cognitive and non-cognitive factors in the take-up of pro-social behaviour, focusing on registrations to posthumously donate organs.


"To ask or not to ask? The interplay of implicit attitudes and soliciting registrations as organ donors”. (Awarded the ESR 2021 grant)

Project summary: I exploit the staggered introduction of an “ask” policy and an Implicit Association Test to study how implicit attitudes and cultural norms affect citizens' likelihood to register as organ donors.

"Conflict and Social Norms" (With Eliana la Ferrara)