Cigdem V. Sirin, José D. Villalobos, and Nicholas A. Valentino Receive the APSA Best Book Award

The APSA Best Book Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best book on government, politics, or international affairs. This year we have co-winners for the ASPA Best Book Award: Cigdem V. Sirin, Nicholas A. Valentino, and Jose D. Villalobos for their work Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy; and Diana C. Mutz for her work, Winners and Losers: The Psychology of Foreign Trade.

Cigdem V. Sirin, co-author of Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy, is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).  She received her doctoral degree from Texas A&M University in 2009 and her BA degree from Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey in 2003.  Dr. Sirin is a recipient of the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and an inaugural member of UTEP’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.  Dr. Sirin’s main areas of interest are international relations and political psychology.  Her research centers on examining the microfoundations of interstate and intrastate conflict processes and outcomes.  Her publications include articles in Journal of Politics, Political Psychology, International Studies QuarterlyInternational Political Science Review, and numerous other venues.  Her book, co-authored with Nicholas Valentino and José Villalobos, entitled Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy (Cambridge University Press, 2021) is recipient of the 2022 APSA Best Book Award, the 2022 APSA Best Book in Experimental Research, the 2022 APSA Best Book in Political Psychology, and the 2022 ISPP David O. Sears Best Book on Mass Politics Award.  Dr. Sirin has served UTEP as the Director of the Center for Faculty Leadership and Development (CFLD) from 2020 to 2022 and coordinated UTEP’s Support for Online Learning (Sol) initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic.

José D. Villalobos, co-author of Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy, is Professor of Political Science and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and his doctoral degree from Texas A&M University.  He is a recipient of the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, UTEP’s Most Distinguished Faculty Member Award, and the Outstanding Service to the College Award in Liberal Arts.  Dr. Villalobos recently served as the Dean’s Fellow and Chair for UTEP’s Community Engagement & Leadership (CEL) Program in Liberal Arts.  His research examines U.S. institutional leadership/management, public opinion dynamics, and policy making in the areas of the U.S. presidency, race/ethnicity politics and identity, and immigration policy.  His publications include articles in Journal of Politics, Political Psychology, Political Research Quarterly, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and American Behavioral Scientist.  Dr. Villalobos is also co-author (with Justin Vaughn) of Czars in the White House: The Rise of Policy Czars as Presidential Management Tools (University of Michigan Press, 2015) and co-author (with Cigdem Sirin and Nicholas Valentino) of Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Nicholas A. Valentino, co-author of Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy, is Professor of Political Science and Research Professor in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.  He was President of the International Society for Political Psychology from 2019-2020.  He

currently serves as PI of the American National Election Studies.  Valentino specializes in political psychological approaches to understanding public opinion formation, socialization, information seeking and electoral participation.  His work employs experimental methods, surveys, and content analyses of political communication.  The research has focused on the intersecting roles of racial attitudes and emotional dynamics, and has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Political Psychology, and Public Opinion Quarterly, among other places.  Valentino is currently exploring the changing nature of racial rhetoric in America and around the world, and the ways empathy for outgroups can blunt dangerous overreactions to threats from globalization and multiculturalism.

Citation from the Award Committee: 

In Seeing Us in Them: Social Divisions and the Politics of Group Empathy, Sirin, Valentino, and Villalobos investigate an essential topic – attitudes toward people who are outside of one’s immediate identity group.  The authors develop an original theory about the sources and consequences of outgroup empathy, which holds that people who have experienced discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment will be more likely to care about the well-being of people in other marginalized groups.  Using an array of empirical tests, the authors show that group empathy is a key predictor of attitudes towards migrants and refugees, support for Black Lives Matter, perceptions of the #MeToo movement, and more.  Sirin et al.’s theory of empathy, and new measures of it, have potentially wide applications in offering tools for analyzing identity divides in many parts of the world.  Moreover, at a time in U.S. politics when polarization is driving people further apart, Seeing Us in Them draws attention to a fundamental human quality – empathy – that could help knit us back together.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Kimberly J. Morgan (chair) of George Washington University, Professor Eva Anduiza of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Dr. Karam Dana of the University of Washington, Dr. Hans J.G. Hassell of Florida State University, and Dr. Nils Ringe of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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