The Affect Effect: Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behavior

By W. Russell Neuman; George E. Marcus et al. | Go to book overview
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Affective Intelligence and Voting:
Information Processing and Learning
in a Campaign


After devoting many years to voting behavior studies focused on cognition, recent research has turned toward the important role that emotions play in political decision making. No longer can we subscribe to the idea that passion is antithetical to reason; important research in neuroscience has suggested that there can be no reason (or effective decision making, at least) without emotion (Damasio 1994, 1999; Spezio and Adolphs, chapter 4 in this volume). In this chapter we seek to demonstrate how initial feeling toward a political candidate influences the evaluation of new information and how emotional reactions to that new information influence learning. Building on Marcus, Neuman, and MacKuen's (2000) affective intelligence thesis, we use dynamic process tracing (Lau and Redlawsk 1992, 1997, 2001a, 2001b, 2006; Redlawsk 2001, 2002, 2004) to present voters with a campaign in which evaluative expectations are often violated and emotional responses to candidates are heightened. An initially preferred candidate becomes suddenly and unexpectedly less attractive, while an initially rejected candidate begins taking positions that are very close to the voter's own. The result should be conflict between the initial evaluation and new information, allowing us to test the

The study reported in this chapter was supported by funding from the Department of
Political Science at the University of Iowa and the Center for the Study of Group Processes,
Department of Sociology, University of Iowa. Thanks to Lisa Troyer for helping secure
funding and providing lab space and thanks to the bevy of research assistants who worked
on this project: Jason Humphrey, Kimberly Brisky, Karen Emmerson, Michelle Bagi, Matt
Opad, Stephanie Hood, Trisha Soljacich, Francisco Olalde, Laura Patters, Megan Adams,
Conor Moran, Garrett Hanken, and Mike Biderman. An earlier version of this chapter was
presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago,
IL, April 15–18, 2004.


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The Affect Effect: Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behavior
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