Jonathan Woon

Associate Professor, Political Science and Economics
Pittsburgh Experimental Economics Lab
University of Pittsburgh

Home CV Publications Working Papers Data Courses


4447 W.W. Posvar Hall
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Ph: (412) 648-7266
Fax: (412) 648-7277
My research aims to enrich our understanding of human behavior and democratic processes. I am interested in a variety of topics, ranging from voting and elections, to collective choice and decision making processes, to information and communication. Can voters hold politicians accountable? Why isn’t the pool of candidates for office more diverse? Do elections increase the provision of public goods? Are parties’ reputations tied to what they do in government? How does competition affect the incentives for lying and do citizens know when they are being lied to?

The approach I take to answering these questions relies on theoretical, statistical, and experimental analysis. Formal, analytical models are useful tools for social scientific inquiry for generating theoretical insights about incentives and strategic interaction. By closely linking theoretical models to empirical analysis, I have constructed novel tests of theories of political parties, congressional behavior, and lawmaking. Recently, much of my attention has turned to incentivized small group and decision-making experiments. Such experiments are powerful tools for observing behavior under tightly controlled conditions.

My work with Pitt colleague Kris Kanthak on the gender gap in candidate emergence was funded by the National Science Foundation and has received best paper awards for women and politics. It has also been featured several times in the media: in a New York Times'  Upshot column, an MSNBC Original, and a Short cartoon summary by Rice political scientist Rick Wilson.

I also lead the NSF-supported Behavioral Models of Politics project with Dave Siegel at Duke. This project seeks to organize a research community and promote a dialogue between theorists and empiricists to expand the range of analytical models used by political scientists and political economists beyond the standard rational choice, game theoretic paradigm by incorporating behavioral concepts, bounded rationality, psychology, and cognition. You can see previous conference programs here: 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017.

In addition to my primary appointment as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science, I have a secondary appointment in the Department of Economics and am an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Experimental Economics Laboratory. I also serve as the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of the Center for the Study of American Politics and Society. I received my PhD in Political Economics from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and I previously held an appointment at Carnegie Mellon University. I have also been a Visiting Scholar at Vanderbilt University, Stanford University, and the University of Amsterdam.

You can view my Google Scholar Profile, my ResearchGate Profile, or my department profile.

updated September 14, 2017