Hannah Verrips

Political psychology master's degree student expands research on dual citizens

By

Robert Ewing

How do you effectively communicate important political and governmental messages across multiple nations, to diverse populations?

Hannah Verrips, a graduate student in Arizona State University's Master of Political Psychology program has firsthand experience with those challenges. Verrips, a dual national of the United States and Canada, spent time during her undergraduate studies as part of the Canadian legislature while at the University of Waterloo. This governmental experience was part of a work experience program at various ministries in the Ontario provincial government. 

Verrips specialized in Canadian politics and was interested in the Master of Political Psychology program specifically to learn how to more effectively communicate and strategize messaging for citizens in the U.S. and in Canada. She currently works as a policy and programs assistant at the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services.

“I noticed that many of the people in government had trouble communicating political information to the electorate in an easily digestible way,” Verrips said. “Even when talking with friends and family about my role in politics, they would say they didn’t know what that means.”

One major challenge in effective communication for U.S. and Canadian citizens is that U.S. law doesn’t require citizens to relinquish their citizenship when applying for additional nationalities, and as a result, it is difficult to track how many dual citizens immigrate each year. It is currently estimated that approximately 10,000 dual citizens move across the U.S.-Canada border annually. 

“It is unclear how many dual nationals there are, which is interesting in itself, so a lot of my work will be studying how multiple nationalities impact political participation, behavior and understanding,” Verrips said. 

An important feature of the political psychology program is the mission to educate students using the most recent insights from evidence-based research in order to be prepared outside the classroom. Students can expect to use real-world situations and examples in order to better understand the strategy behind messaging and how to be more effective. 

“This program has been so transformational to my life and career — I’m part of the inaugural class and it has been an amazing way for me to intersect different disciplines. I’ve really been able to take away key aspects of political science and psychology to be even more effective in my career and in further research,” Verrips said.

Following graduation, Verrips is starting a PhD in political science this fall at the University of Western Ontario.

“I’m really interested in conducting research on the political behavior of dual or multinational citizens. I want to know how having more than one national identity impacts voting behavior and their communication about important issues,” Verrips said.

Verrips had an unexpected connection with her faculty as well. 

“The faculty was instrumental in mentoring me and helping with my application into my doctoral program,” Verrips said.

Verrips was also pleasantly surprised to hear that Steven Neuberg, who taught her "Prejudice and Stereotypes" course was a postdoctoral researcher at her alma mater early in his career.

“Hannah was an excellent student in my course, and it is no surprise that she is moving on to do great things in a doctoral program this fall,” said Neuberg, chair and Foundation Professor of psychology.  

Video of Hannah V