Dr Patrick Lown

Senior Research Fellow (EssexLab Manager)
Department of Government
Dr Patrick Lown
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873809

  • Location

    5B.312, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours




  • BS Psychology, The Ohio State University (2010)

  • PhD Political Science, Stony Brook University (2015)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Public Opinion of Social Welfare Politics

Meritocratic Beliefs and Ideology

Open to supervise


Open to supervise

Survey and Experimental Research Methodology

Open to supervise

Envirionmental values and behavior

Open to supervise

Current research

Lown, Patrick, Simone Dietrich, and Hugh Ward. A Failure of Imagination: How cultural differences impede empathy and the flow of foreign aid.

Foreign aid does not necessarily flow to where the need is greatest. This could be because of strategic interests of donor countries or inefficiencies associated with the implementation of foreign aid in recipient countries. It may also be, in part, due to failure of the ‘moral imagination’ of the pivotal voter in donor countries: as social distance increases individuals find it harder to sympathize with others in need of foreign aid. Although citizens might recognize need, the knowledge about need may not translate into support for aid because emotions are not sufficiently stirred; and more likely to occur for people who are ideologically opposed to foreign aid. We investigate this question through macro- and micro-level analyses. In our country-level analyses of aid allocation we show that ‘social distance’ between donor and recipient countries influences levels of aid. Since this analysis cannot establish that the causal mechanism at work relates to sympathy we propose to test the individual-level implications of our theory through a survey experiment using British citizens. We find evidence for our thesis. The research contributes to our understanding of how foreign aid preferences are formed and whether they are malleable.

Newman, Benjamin and Patrick Lown. “Exposure to Economic Inequality and Belief in the American Dream: An Experimental Approach.”

Albertazzi, Andrea, Friederike Mengel and Patrick Lown. "The Impact of Inequality Exposure on Economic Attitudes and Behavior"

Teaching and supervision

Previous supervision

Adnan Pavel
Adnan Pavel
Thesis title: Climate Change, Human Security, and Unstable Migration in Bangladesh.
Degree subject: Government
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 7/6/2024
Christine Maria Stedtnitz
Christine Maria Stedtnitz
Thesis title: How Motivated Reasoning Leads to Tolerance of False Claims: Three Experimental Tests of Mechanisms
Degree subject: Government
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 16/6/2020


Journal articles (6)

Pospieszna, P., Lown, P. and Dietrich, S., (2023). Building active youth in post-Soviet countries through civic education programmes: evidence from Poland. East European Politics. 39 (2), 321-344

Gerver, M., Duell, D. and Lown, P., (2023). Proportional Immigration Enforcement. The Journal of Politics. 85 (3), 949-968

Feldman, S., Huddy, L., Wronksi, J. and Lown, P., (2020). The Interplay of Empathy and Individualism in Support for Social Welfare Policies. Political Psychology. 41 (2), 343-362

Newman, BJ., Hartman, TK., Lown, PL. and Feldman, S., (2015). Easing the Heavy Hand: Humanitarian Concern, Empathy, and Opinion on Immigration. British Journal of Political Science. 45 (03), 583-607

Newman, BJ., Johnston, CD. and Lown, PL., (2014). False Consciousness or Class Awareness? Local Income Inequality, Personal Economic Position, and Belief in American Meritocracy. American Journal of Political Science. 59 (2), 326-340

Newman, BJ., Johnson, J. and Lown, PL., (2014). The "Daily Grind": Work, Commuting, and Their Impact on Political Participation. American Politics Research. 42 (1), 141-170

Reports and Papers (1)

Albertazzi, A., Lown, P. and Mengel, F., (2021). Personal Relative Position, Attribution and Social Trust

Grants and funding


Improving sustainability in Colchester with reduced single-use plastics

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)


Exit polling on effectiveness and reach of Bradwell B public consultation events


+44 (0) 1206 873809


5B.312, Colchester Campus

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