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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

College: Fitzwilliam College


I am a PhD student in the Department of Politics and International Studies, funded and supported by YouGov. Although my heart is tied to my home turf, the Ruhrgebiet in Germany, I pursued my previous studies abroad, reading for a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology at Erasmus University College Rotterdam and a Master’s in Sociology at the University of Oxford, where I was awarded a prize for the best thesis. Apart from my academic work, I row in Cambridge, a sport I pursue since childhood; I also relish the occasional break from the intense environment of Cambridge, either by spending time abroad or at home.


Given my academic background, my academic thinking begins with the individual and proceeds from there. That is, I comprehend political and social phenomena as the sum of individuals’ experiences within the social system, which allows me – I believe – to grasp the political reality of people as genuine as possible. This approach guides my doctoral thesis on affective polarisation, the animosity between citizens based on political affiliation, where I aim to (re-)understand fundamental elements of the phenomenon drawing on survey data and experiments. My thesis is organised into several papers. In a first part, I focus on re-understanding the phenomenon from the bottom-up rather than top-down, acknowledging that individuals’ experience and whom they politically dislike is complex and varies, rather than imposing a divide believed to be relevant onto individuals (e.g., the excessive attention on Democrats vs Republicans). I continue this theme in a second paper in which I seek to understand sources and changes in affective polarisation, challenging the primary explanation that centres around social identities and instead shedding light on the role of moralisation of politics in causing the animosity. Next to these core themes, I collaborate in various smaller projects with colleagues from POLIS or the Psychology department on topics such as inequality and affective polarisation or within-party affective polarisation. I am also part of the Cambridge Overcoming Polarisation Group, a multidisciplinary group of professors and junior researchers striving to leverage academic research to mitigate polarisation. This is exemplary of my ambition to eventually make meaningful, positive societal impact with my research.


Thesis Title: Understanding and Measuring Affective Polarisation in Mass Publics
Supervisor: Dr Roberto Foa

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