A.B., Brown University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Michigan
Pendleton Hall East Rm. 234
Jennifer ChudyKnafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences; Assistant Professor of Political Science
Studies American politics with an emphasis on race and ethnicity, public opinion, and political psychology
I study race and ethnicity in American politics. Within this broad field, I focus on White racial attitudes generally and the attitude of racial sympathy - defined as White distress over Black suffering - specifically. Racial sympathy is a distinct, but understudied, White racial attitude with important political consequences. Using multiple methods including survey research, experimental studies, participant observation, and long-form interviews, my book project examines the origins and depths of this phenomena as well as the conditions that give rise to its political expression. My 2021 article in the Journal of Politics summarizes this work.
In addition to my research on racial sympathy, I have also examined guilt and prejudice among White Americans. My research has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post/Monkey Cage, and Vox. I have also provided commentary on race and American politics on Fivethirtyeight.com.
At Wellesley, I teach courses related to American politics, race and politics, political psychology, and research methods. All of my courses, regardless of title, focus on the role of race and ethnicity in American politics.
I grew up in a multiracial and interfaith household. Prior to graduate school, I worked in politics and have experience at the federal, state, and local levels of American government. I was also a Fulbright Grantee in South Korea. Outside of academics, I enjoy singing, walking, and watching plays and musicals.