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Faculty and Staff

Dr. Leslie A. Caughell

Leslie A. Caughell

Assistant Professor of Political Science


B.A., M.A., Miami University Oxford, Ohio
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain

Office Location: Eggleston 104
Phone: 757-233-8853
Affiliation: Faculty
Department/s: International Studies
Political Science

Leslie Caughell earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after completing her undergraduate and Master's degree at Miami University of Ohio.  She teaches courses in American politics and political theory.  

Her research interests center on the demographic and environmental factors that shape political attitudes. Her first book, The Political Battle of the Sexes: Exploring the Sources of Gender Gaps in Policy Preferences, is under contract with Lexington Books. The work examines how one demographic characteristic, an individual’s sex, affects the preferences they express. Many scholars observe gender gaps in political preferences. These gender gaps contribute to the creation of gender-based differences in voting behavior and party identification. Despite their practical importance, the causes of gender gaps remain obscure. She uses empirical and theoretical work in fields such as economics, feminist theory, neurobiology, primatology, psychology, and sociology to more thoroughly explore what causes these gender gaps. She finds both biological and environmental factors contribute to the development of these gaps, with different factors contributing more in different issue areas.

She is currently working on a number of projects. The two about which she is most excited examine issues related to female candidates running for public office. The first explores how media stereotypes of women affect their propensity to run for office. Using content analysis of children’s programming and an experiment with young children, she examines how the presentation of “feminine” characteristics contributes to gender disparities in political representation by presenting behaviors commonplace in politics, like behaving assertively or expressing disagreement, as unfeminine. The other project examines how media coverage of historical candidates, i.e. Senator Hillary Clinton as potentially the first female president, alters voters’ evaluations of those candidates and how these effects vary across demographic groups. Another project, currently under review at the Journal of Politics and recently featured on the website of the American Press Institute, examines the conditions under which rumors will spread most widely among the public. This manuscript suggests that the proliferation of social media has substantial implications for the function of democracy, especially if democracy functions best when people have accurate information about politics.


Caughell, L. (Under Contract) “The Political Battle of the Sexes: Exploring the Sources
of Gender Gaps in Policy Preferences” (Under Contract, Lexington Books)

Caughell, L. (2015). Review of "More Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways
to the State Legislatures" by S. J. Carroll and K. Sanbonmatsu. Journal of Politics.

Caughell, L. (2013). “Television Personalities and Social Media in Politics” in
Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. Kerric Harvey and J. G. Golson
(Eds.). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

  • Political Theory
  • Political Communication
  • Public Opinion
  • American Politics

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