Project Description

Lena Masch

Dr. Lena Masch

Postdoctoral Researcher, 2021-2023

Short Vita

I am a postdoctoral researcher at Humboldt-University of Berlin. I obtained my doctorate in Political Science (Dr. rer. pol.) at the University of Stuttgart. I also hold an M.Sc. in Social Research Methods from City University London and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Greifswald. My main areas of expertise include political communication, political psychology as well as experimental research methods.

What I find exciting about this research initiative

Politics have been increasingly polarized in recent years. Persistent and growing levels of affective polarization can eventually pose a threat to social cohesion and the functioning of democracies. Reducing hostility in social interactions and fostering a common understanding are crucial for maintaining an open political discourse and gaining widespread support for political policies. Since the research initiative has a focus on interaction dynamics and individual emotions at the micro level, fundamental processes in strengthening and weakening social cohesion can be observed. By studying social cohesion through this unique approach, a deeper understanding of individual dispositions at the micro level and consequently social cohesion at the macro level can be gained. The findings can guide future research on political polarization in modern democracies.

What my discipline can contribute to this research initiative

Political psychology focuses on individual political attitudes and behavior. It aids the investigation of cognitive and emotional underpinnings of citizens’ social and political trust, e.g., trust in politicians and democratic institutions, as well as their empathy for others. Furthermore, the framework also allows for considering theories and assumptions from related disciplines, such as political sociology, in order to explore the role of individual living conditions and social networks in forming opinions. As a result, individual dispositions and attitude formations can be analyzed.

Five key publications

  • Masch, L., Gassner, A., & Rosar, U. (2021). Can a beautiful smile win the vote?: The role of candidates’ physical attractiveness and facial expressions in elections. Politics and the Life Sciences 40(2), 213 – 223.

  • Masch, Lena. 2020. Politicians’ Expressions of Anger and Leadership Evaluations. Empirical Evidence from Germany. Nomos, Baden-Baden. doi:

  • Masch, Lena, & Gabriel, Oscar W. 2020. How Emotional Displays of Political Leaders Shape Citizen Attitudes: The Case of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. German Politics 29(2): 158–179. doi:

  • Renner, Anna-Maria, & Lena Masch. 2019. Emotional woman–rational man? Gender stereotypical emotional expressivity of German politicians in news broadcasts. Communications 44 (1): 81–103. doi:

  • Gabriel, Oscar W., & Lena Masch. 2017. Displays of emotion and citizen support for Merkel and Gysi: How emotional contagion affects evaluations of leadership. Politics and the Life Sciences 36(2): 80–103. doi: