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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Travel Grant Report by Martijn Blikmans

19.08.2020, by Tina Keil in grant report

University of Groningen; Research visit to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, USA

Chicago, Photo by Martijn Blikmans
Chicago, Photo by Martijn Blikmans

My name is Martijn Blikmans, A third-year PhD student from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. I study how emotional displays of political actors impact the cognitive and affective states of potential voters, and how such displays can be used to garner support for the communicator. Below you can read a short report on my (shortened) research trip.

On February 1st, I left from Amsterdam Schiphol airport for my research stay at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Some 8 hours later, I arrived at O’Hare international airport in Chicago, and made my way to my AirBnB in Lakeview. I was going to stay in Chicago for three months, working with dr. Nour Kteily to examine how the use of emotional speech by presidential candidates in primary campaigns impacted potential voters. I would learn how to retrieve data from Twitter in order to examine how performances in debates affected people in real time. After a bumpy first week, I was settled in at the Kellogg Global Hub on the campus in Evanston, and I was exploring Chicago in my free time. After learning the basics of Python, I scraped Twitter for a few hours during the last democratic primary debate before Super Tuesday. As such, after my first month, I had a large database of unfiltered tweets collected during the primary debate, and was ready to learn how to analyze these. After that, I could start coding the debates to see how, over time, emotional displays impacted the reactions on Twitter. I also started visiting the meetings of the Social Psychology group of Northwestern University, led by prof. Galen Bodenhausen.

However, my attendance there was short-lived. Mid-March, I left for a weekend trip to Denver to visit my girlfriend, but due to the rapid developments in what was now the COVID-19 pandemic, I remained there the next week, and the following weekend, we flew back to the Netherlands. I am currently working on the other studies for my dissertation, but soon will start looking into how to use my nearly 250000 tweets for a paper examining the real time reactions to emotional display by politicians.

I am very happy that the EASP had decided to grant my this money. The trip, although too short, was inspiring, and I hope I can visit the US again when things calm down.