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Department of Political Science

Political Behavior and Digital Media

This research group is part of the Digital Society Initiative (DSI) at the University of Zurich and focuses on the significance of new digital (online) media for political behaviour. Our aim is not only to better understand the impact of digital media on political processes, but also to investigate in more detail how individuals interact, inform, are influenced or influence others online. Our current research focuses primarily on the impact of biased information flows online, both via online media and social media, and the role of individual perceptions of this content on political behaviour.

The second research focus of this group is in the area of computational social science. We mainly work on developing and improving methods for quantitative research on digital media. This includes the use of experiments and observational data on digital media, but also the use of computational (agent-based) modelling to capture systemic complexity, as well as machine/deep learning for automatic classification of texts. The group also provides a number of software packages for data analysis and visualisation, especially in the area of high-resolution geographical data, to the research community as open source tools.

Typical content-related and methodological interests of this group are:

  • Social influence through traditional and online media.
  • Media bias and its influence on collective decision making
  • Statistical and experimental analysis on digital media
  • Machine/deep learning and automatic text analysis
  • Big data processing and analysis
  • Causal inference in (geo-referenced) microdata


Director of the area


Academic guests:

Doctoral students/assistants:
Fabian Reinhard
Thierry Schaltegger
Perisan Kevci

Auxiliary assistants:
Jonas Ineichen
Marie Arnold


Main research areas

Political behavioural research on digital media, computational social science, political methodology.


Teaching and supervision

You can find detailed information about the courses of the staff members on the personal pages.



Department of Political Science
Affolternstrasse 56
8050 Zurich
Tel: 044 634 58 35 / 044 634 38 41
Office opening hours: Monday to Friday: 09:00 - 12:00 / 13:30 - 16:30


Support information

Consultation hours:

Prof. Dr. Karsten Donnay
Office AFL-H-350
Appointments via E-Mail