Stanford University

Research Labs

Center for Deliberative Democracy (CDD)

The Center for Deliberative Democracy is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative PollingĀ®. Developed by Professor James S. Fishkin, Deliberative PollingĀ® is a technique which combines deliberation in small group discussions with scientific random sampling to provide public consultation for public policy and for electoral issues.

Political Communication Lab (PCL)

The Political Communication Lab was formed to develop and administer experimental studies of public opinion and political behavior through the use of both online and traditional methods. The advantages of online experimentation are clear in light of the explosion in the number of households with access to the Internet. Moreover, issues of sampling bias — previously endemic to experiments — can be overcome through the greater “reach” of online experiments and by the application of standard probability sampling techniques to the recruitment of online experimental participants. These developments significantly alleviate concerns over the generalizability of experimental research and as a result, experiments now represent a dominant methodology for political communication researchers.

Political Psychology Research Group (PPRG)

Political psychology is a thriving field of social scientific inquiry with an important focus on communication processes, whereby citizens communicate with their leaders and leaders communicate with citizens. Political psychologists attempt to understand the psychological underpinnings, roots, and consequences of these sorts of communicative political behaviors. Some of this work attempts to understand political phenomena by applying theories developed through research done in psychological laboratories. Findings regarding mediation and moderation of real-world effects have often led to extensions and revisions of the inspiring psychological theories. Other political psychology research involves the development of completely new theory to provide psychological accounts of political phenomena. The empirical testing and refinement of these theories also contributes to basic understanding of how the mind works and how social interaction takes place. The Political Psychology Research Group (PPRG) conducts collaborative research projects to do all this. Studies focus on elections, voting behavior, mass media influence, how people form and change their attitudes on political issues, how people evaluate the President’s job performance, and much more. Because a great deal of political psychology research is done using survey data, PPRG also conducts ongoing studies to identify the best methods to yield the most accurate survey measurements.

Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL)

The mission of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab is to understand the dynamics and implications of interactions among people in immersive virtual reality simulations (VR), and other forms of human digital representations in media, communication systems, and games. Researchers in the lab are most concerned with understanding the social interaction that occurs within the confines of VR, and the majority of our work is centered on using empirical, behavioral science methodologies to explore people as they interact in these digital worlds. However, oftentimes it is necessary to develop new gesture tracking systems, three-dimensional modeling techniques, or agent-behavior algorithms in order to answer these basic social questions. Consequently, we also engage in research geared towards developing new ways to produce these VR simulations.