Anton Shirikov

Hi! My name is Anton Shirikov, and I am a Postdoctoral Scholar in Russian Politics at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2022. I study media, propaganda, misinformation, political polarization, and trust. My dissertation examines how authoritarian leaders use propaganda to maintain public support. I combine original experiments and surveys situated in Russia with large-scale cross-national data to show that autocrats such as Vladimir Putin can improve the credibility of biased state media by continually supplying their supporters with belief-consistent messages. This affirmation propaganda also undermines the power of less biased independent media. Citizens who are trapped in state media echo chambers are, consequently, less adept at recognizing disinformation. Here's a video of my recent talk at George Washington University covering some of the key findings of my dissertation.

My current project investigates the conditions under which citizens treat propaganda and misinformation critically and the tools that citizens rely on to detect false information. This analysis builds on the data that I recently collected in Russia and Ukraine, as well as new surveys and experiments. Another goal of the project is to understand how we can help citizens to recognize propaganda and media bias more effectively. I develop experimental interventions that encourage Russians to approach news information thoughtfully and to use independent news sources.

In other work, I study political elites and institutions in Russia and Ukraine, inter-ethnic trust in Kazakhstan, as well as the legacies of communism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

My analysis and commentary have appeared in The Washington Post, on PBS NewsHour, in The Financial Times, HuffingtonPost, USA Today, Politifact, Portland Press Herald, ABC Radio National (Australia), Press Gazette (UK), CBC, The Daily Dot, and on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Before graduate school, I worked as a journalist and an editor in Russian independent media, covering politics and technology.

I can be reached at shirikov at wisc dot edu. You can also follow me on Twitter and Google Scholar.