Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
United States
Portland State University
Attitudes, Cynicism, Political Communication, Political Rhetoric, Political Participation, Political Psychology, Public Opinion, Voting Behavior
Media Contact

Personal Info

About Me

Two major areas characterize my scholarship: political psychology and public opinion, though my interests extend to the study of multiple forms of political rhetoric and behavior. The context for the bulk of my research is the United States, though I do comparative research on Europe (the Netherlands) as well. My research is also interdisciplinary, drawing from political science and social psychology in order to better understand the causes of political cynicism and its effects on political behavior.

I received my PhD in Political Science (2015) from Washington State University, USA, my Master of Science in Social and Organizational Psychology (2010, cum laude) and my Master of Arts in Political Science (2008, with distinction) from Leiden University, the Netherlands.

My dissertation examines the impact of political cynicism on political participation. While political cynicism is often assumed to reduce people’s involvement in politics, some suggest that cynicism may actually increase electoral support for certain types of parties, namely, those that are ideologically extreme. Why some cynics are politically active while others abstain from politics, however, is not well understood. I argue that current measures of cynicism are unsound and therefore cannot explain why cynical citizens remain active. My dissertation asks, “How do different types of cynicism influence levels of political participation?” In answering this question, I propose a new definition and measurement of political cynicism that distinguishes cynicism from related concepts such as distrust and alienation. In addition, I analyze the effects of cynicism on political participation. Structural equation modeling confirms the reliability of my scale and shows that political cynicism is related to, but distinct from political distrust, political efficacy and social trust. With regard to political participation, current research suggests that cynicism threatens democratic legitimacy by leading people to a complete withdrawal from politics. However, my research shows a citizenry that, although cynical at a certain degree, is at the same time also politically active.

I received the 2016 Dissertation Award from the Western Political Science Association for the best doctoral  dissertation completed at a university within the regional groupings of the WPSA between July 1 2015 and June 30 2016.

Recent Publications


Rijkhoff, S. A. M. “Media in Oregon: Instant and constant demand, doing a lot more with a lot less”. In Richard Clucas, Mark Henkels, Priscilla Southwell, and Edward Weber (Eds.), Oregon State and Local Politics: Change and Continuation. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press (Under review).

Rijkhoff, S. A. M. and Camden, J. “The Washington Press and Politics: News Coverage in Changing Times” In Cornell W. Clayton, Todd Donovan and Nicholas P. Lovrich (Eds.), Political Life in the Evergreen State, Pullman, Washington State University Press (Under review).

Rijkhoff, S. A. M., Hoard, S. A., Gaffney, M. and Smith, P. “Communities Ready for Takeoff: Integrating Social Assets for Biofuel Site-Selection Modeling” Revise and Resubmit, minor revisions for Politics and Life Sciences.

Martinkus, N., Rijkhoff, S. A. M., Hoard, S. A., Shi, W., Smith, P., Gaffney, M., and Wolcott, M. (2017) “Site Selection of Biorefineries using a Stepwise Biogeophysical and Social Analysis Approach.” Biomass and Bioenergy. 97, pp. 139-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2016.12.022 (5-year impact factor: 4.146)


Campbell, C. M., Makin, D. A., and Rijkhoff, S. A. M. (2016) “A Rhetorical Balancing Act: Popular Punitivism in the Netherlands” Punishment and Society. DOI: 10.1177/1462474516672882. In press. (2015 impact factor: 0.833)


De Kwaadsteniet, E. W., Rijkhoff, S. A. M., and Van Dijk, E. (2013). Equality as a Benchmark for Third-Party Punishment and Reward: The Moderating Role of Uncertainty in Social Dilemmas, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 120, pp. 251-259. DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.06.007 (5-year impact factor: 3.938)

Media Coverage

Appearance on Your Voice Your Vote: Emotions in Politics, KATU News, ABC Television affiliate, Portland, August 22, 2017.

Appearance on Your Voice Your Vote: What’s Trump’s Appeal?, KATU News, ABC Television affiliate, Portland, March 6, 2017.

Country Focus
United States, the Netherlands

Research Areas

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