The NEAAPOR council unanimously selected Victoria Asbury’s paper, "’Truly American’: A Multidimensional Experimental Approach to Unpacking the Symbolic Boundaries Around American Identity" as the winner of this year’s student paper award. Asbury’s paper focuses on a timely research question: what factors influence whether an individual is viewed as American? In the wake of the 2020 U.S. Census, which documented the greatly increasing diversity of the American population, understanding what factors matter for these perceptions is especially important. Asbury uses a clever conjoint experiment to examine the relative importance of ascriptive and acquired characteristics on perceptions of Americanness. The paper is clearly written and engages with a growing body of research on the subject. Overall, it is an important contribution that will be of interest to all social scientists who are working to understand the challenges and opportunities we face as America becomes an increasingly multi-racial society.
The NEAAPOR Council also wishes to recognize Jing-Jing Shen's paper, "A Life Worth Striving For: Insights On Young Americans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing from the Harvard Youth Poll" as an honorable mention for the award. This well-written paper reports on the results from a nationally representative survey of Gen Z adults to document the significant mental health struggles being faced by this generation of Americans.