I study the impact of politicians’ media exposure in campaign on their vote share, exploiting an exogenous change in coverage during the Italian 2013 electoral race. 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, a part of Berlusconi’s electorate resorted to Internet for political news, and later favored a new party with Internet-centred propaganda.

Working papers:

"Visual Bias" [Working Paper] (submitted)

 ["Best paper award" of the 2021/2022 Econ Job Market]      


I study the non-verbal language of leading pictures in online news and its influence on readers’ opinions. I develop a visual vocabulary and use a dictionary approach to analyze around 300,000 photos published in US news in 2020. I document that the visual language of US media is politically partisan and significantly polarised. I then demonstrate experimentally that the news’ partisan visual language is not merely distinctive of outlets’ ideological positions, but also promotes them among readers. In a survey experiment, identical articles with images of opposing partisanships induce different opinions, tilted towards the pictures’ ideological poles. Moreover, as readers react more to images aligned with their viewpoint, the news’ visual bias causes issue polarization to increase. Finally, I find that media can effectively slant readers using neutral texts and partisan pictures: this result calls for the inclusion of image scrutiny in news assessments and fact checking, today largely text-based.

In progress:

Political economy & media:

"Strategic Media" , with Andrea Mattozzi 

"Algorithmic Social Norms" 

Social norms & health:

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

(Awarded the EIEF 2020 Grant

Project description: 

I 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)