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#SPA80for80: Professor Thomas Zeitzoff

Thomas Zeitzoff

Thomas Zeitzoff’s studies have taken him to some of the world’s most entrenched conflicts.

Zeitzoff, who is interested in why individuals fight and how leaders mobilize supporters, uses experimental methods drawn from social psychology and behavioral economics to study how psychological factors and political constraints influence conflict behavior. His research examines why individuals participate in political violence, why groups fight, and the political and psychological effects of exposure to violence.

He has conducted extensive fieldwork and survey research in Israel, Mexico, and Turkey. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, and has appeared in Electoral Studies, Conflict Management and Peace Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and the American Political Science Review.

Zeitzoff received his PhD in politics from New York University. His dissertation, funded in part by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, explored the macro- and micro-foundations of conflict, measuring the conflict dynamics between Israel and Hamas during the 2008-2009 Gaza Conflict to see which political and tactical considerations influence conflict reciprocity.

In a unique approach, his researched focused on anger, an emotion that social psychologists and political scientists have identified as key to understanding ethnic violence, then measured how anger over past violence influence intragroup and intergroup conflict.

His publication, titled “Using Social Media to Measure Conflict Dynamics: An Application to the 2008-2009 Gaza Conflict, published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, was the winner of the 2011 Bruce Russett Award for the best article published in the journal during the previous year.

Zeitzoff joined the School of Public Affairs in fall 2014 as an assistant professor of justice, law and criminology. Previously, Zeitzoff served a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University.


"The great part about teaching in SPA is that for the students, policy is not an abstraction, but that which they hope to practice."