Professor Wayne's research and teaching lie at the intersection of international relations, conflict, and behavioral approaches to politics. She specializes in the psychological causes and consequences of political violence for the mass public, elite decision-making in conflict contexts, and strategic adaptation in modern warfare.
In Wayne's research, she bridges rational and behavioral approaches to examine the micro-foundations of political conflict, identifying the systematic ways in which psychological processes impact cycles of war and political violence. Though she explores broad cross-national trends, she also has a regional expertise in the Middle East and Israel-Palestine. Current projects examine how public perceptions of threat and desire for retribution shape and constrain policy-makers’ responses to terrorist violence. Wayne shows that the moral outrage of citizens to terrorism drives both militant group tactics and state counterterror policies. By constraining democratically elected leaders' policy options and encouraging them to strongly retaliate, public outrage can indirectly fuel an increasing reliance by militant groups on terrorism, as counterterror efforts limit their ability to execute more difficult guerrilla tactics.