My work centers around how people form beliefs to guide their choices (e.g. to select a worthwhile book, to break only irregularly sanctioned rules), how people express their opinions, and how these behaviors interact to bring about often hard-to-predict collective outcomes (e.g. the emergence of bestsellers, normative change, swings in public discourse).
I hold a PhD in sociology from LMU Munich, Germany. My articles received the Robert-K-Merton-Award (2017), the Karl-Polanyi-Award (2016), and the Anatol-Rapoport-Award (2014). My work has been published in international journals such as Social Forces, European Sociological Review, Environment & Behavior, Management Science, and Science Advances.
At IAS, I head an international research group studying the dynamics of public discourse based on online text. Funded by a generous grant from the Swedish Research Council, we develop machine-learning applications for the analysis of text in sociology. Using digitized corpora as social sensors, our research explores sudden swings in public opinion and the definition of shared understandings of societal developments and events.