Emotions and Political Decision Making

Emotions matter in politics. These mental states of feeling are expressed in different forms such as enthusiasm, anger, and anxiety. Enthusiastic supporters mobilize votes to elect candidates. People who are angry form protest groups and march on the street. Anxious citizens back policies to keep themselves safe from harm. In much of the academic political science literature, however, emotions are often ignored or seen as a threat to democracy.

Emotions may lead people to engage politically in ways that differ from traditional understandings of politics, whereby people are often seen as making decisions based on reason and maximizing their personal benefit. In practice, emotions affect what information people look for, who they listen to, and what policies they support. For example, anxious citizens tend to ...

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