Emily Thorson

Emily Thorson

Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs
MPA 431
Address: School of Media and Public Affairs
805 21 Street, NW
Washington , District Of Columbia 20052
Phone: 202-994-7835
Fax: 202-994-5806

Areas of Expertise

Political communication; information effects; political psychology; experimental methods; misinformation and fact-checking; public opinion


Emily Thorson joined the School of Media and Public Affairs in 2013 and received the Staub Faculty Excellence Award in April 2014.

She received a dual Ph.D in communications and political science at the Annenberg School and at the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Emily's research focuses on information effects in politics, both on the aggregate and individual level. Specifically, she traces how political information spreads from parties to citizens (through traditional and new forms of media as well as through informal interactions) and the conditions under which this information affects their attitudes and behavior.

Before receiving her Ph.D, Emily worked on political campaigns and at a consulting firm in D.C. helping non-profits and candidates engage in online advocacy.


Ph.D., The Annenberg School for Communication & Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
M.A., The Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 2008
B.A., Williams College, 2002


Beyond Opinion Leaders: How Attempts to Persuade Foster Political Awareness and Campaign Learning. Forthcoming, Communication Research.

The Economy and the Dynamics of the 2008 Presidential Campaign: Evidence from the National Annenberg Election Study.” March 2010. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties, 20:2 271-289. (with Richard Johnston and Andrew Gooch)

Changing Patterns of News Consumption and Participation.” June 2008. Information, Communication, and Society, 11 (4): 473-489

Classes Taught

SMPA 3353 - Strategic Political Communication
SMPA 6204 - Strategic Political Communication
(View Strategic Political Communications Tumblr)


Faculty Soundbite

"I focus on explaining the why. Why did we poll voters so many times? Why do we send out one mailing or another?"

Assitant Professor Emily Thorson explains how her work as a political consultant informs her classroom lectures in strategic political communication.

The Faculty Soundbites Series reveals the most captivating and rewarding aspects of SMPA professors' work in the field and in the classroom.

Selected Media Clips