New Faculty Friday: Q&A with Geoffrey Sheagley

Geoffrey Sheagley received his PhD from the University of Minnesota where he has since been an Assistant Professor of Political Science. His research and teaching focuses on political behavior, public opinion, and political polarization. He is particularly interested in the factors that lead citizens to hold more accurate and thoughtful opinions as opposed to being more biased and misinformed about the political process. Sheagley is teaching Introduction to Political Science this fall.

What attracted you to UGA?
GS: Many things! Athens is a desirable location and UGA has a great reputation as an institution committed to strong teaching and research. SPIA in particular is on an excellent trajectory and political science is building out their expertise in political behavior, which is what I study. The opportunity to be a part of building that area is really exciting.

What are you working on that you’re most excited about?
GS: Lots of projects. There are a couple of that stand out at the moment though. The first examines how much weight people place on different dimensions of public policies when deciding whether they support or oppose them. For instance, do people judge policies based on who they think benefits from the policy vs. the mechanism used to implement the policy, like cutting taxes.

The other project that I’m just starting on is a collaborative effort that looks at the content of people’s beliefs about voter fraud. We allow people to give in-depth open-ended responses after being asked to tell us what they think defines voter fraud. My collaborator and I think we are going to find a lot of depth here, including evidence that people have pretty diverse views about what voter fraud means.

What was your favorite part of your college experience?
GS: Being a part of a diverse community. I was able to grow with a cohort of other students from a variety of backgrounds.

Please tell us about your research interests.
GS: I study American politics and political psychology. In particular, my research examines how people make political decisions and the sources of their beliefs about politics. I also study political parties and polarization.

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?
GS: I have an 18-month old son, so most of my free time is spent trying to keep up with him. Otherwise, I enjoy cooking and hiking. I’m looking forward to exploring outdoor areas around Athens and in Georgia more broadly.

What is your favorite food?
GS: It’s very hard to pick just one. I really enjoy Vietnamese food, especially Pho.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
GS: It will sound pretty cheesy, but I’m proud of my son. His growth is due to many people and I’m happy to have contributed!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
GS: Flight. Anything to avoid waiting for a plane at the airport.

What advice do you have for SPIA students?
GS: Explore. Take courses that sound interesting to you. Study abroad. Join student organizations. Complete an internship. College is a great opportunity explore your interests and to find out what really drives you.