Research

My research agenda investigates how leaders shape international affairs, with a special emphasis on international security and state foreign and defense policy. I have multiple on-going research programs that, while distinct, are connected through their investigation of the impact of political elites on international relations. Substantively, my research focuses on three themes. First, I am interested in understanding how leaders use the tools of coercion to achieve their foreign policy goals, such as which factors influence the efficacy of coercive threats. Second, I have a special interest in the formation and influence of leader-specific reputations, especially reputations for resolve and credibility. Third, my work examines how the personal backgrounds of leaders, such as their military service, place of birth, and personal connections, influence their policy preferences and political behavior. Methodologically, I have a special interest in the use of experimental methods in IR. Yet, I employ a multi-methods approach across these research programs, including experimental, quantitative, and qualitative research methods, based on the needs of each project’s particular research question. As a whole, my research deepens our understanding of the substantive influence of political elites on international politics and demonstrates the diverse conditions and contexts in which these individuals matter for foreign policy and international security. My research specialties include elite decision-making, reputations and coercion, civil-military relations, political psychology, foreign policy, and experimental methods.