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Tabitha Bonilla

Tabitha Bonilla

  • Associate Professor, Human Development & Social Policy

Research Interests

Political communication, identity (race, gender, and intersectionality), political behavior (voting, contact with representatives, etc.) , political attitudes, and measurement of bias.


Tabitha Bonilla studies political behavior and communication and broadly examine how elite communication influences voter opinions of candidates and political policies. In particular, her work focuses on how messaging polarizes attitudes or can bridge attitudinal divides with substantive focuses on important topics in American politics ranging from gun control to human trafficking and immigration. She incorporates a range of quantitative methods including experiments and text analysis.

Currently, Tabitha Bonilla is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. She graduated from Stanford University’s Political Science Department in 2015. Prior to her arrival in California, she graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Biology. Tabitha was born and raised in Montana, and she still enjoys the love for the outdoors she developed there, even if it is now the beach that she now enjoys, instead of the mountains.


  • Post-doctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow, University of Southern California, 2016
  • PhD, Political Science, Stanford University, 2015
  • MA, Political Science, Stanford University, 2015
  • BS, Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007
  • BS, Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007

Selected Publications

Bonilla, Tabitha and Mo, Cecilia (May, 2018). Bridging the Partisan Divide on Immigration Policy Attitudes through a Bipartisan Issue Area: The Case of Human TraffickingJournal of Experimental Political Science.

Bonilla, Tabitha and Mo, Cecilia (April, 2018). The evolution of human trafficking messaging in the United States and its effect on public opinion.  Journal of Public Policy.