Identities, Interests, and Emotions:
Symbolic versus Material Wellsprings
of Fear, Anger, and Enthusiasm
TED BRADER AND NICHOLAS A. VALENTINO
Much of the literature concerning affect and politics emphasizes the impact of emotions on political behavior and judgment, although recent studies also shed light on the ability of political events and communication to trigger emotions. For the most part, researchers have been concerned with the causes and effects for citizens in general and have paid little attention to individual differences in emotional reactions to politics. There is good reason, however, to expect that different people will react differently to the same events, issues, and candidates. For example, the intensity of enthusiasm responses to a given stimulus differs along personality dimensions such as extroversion-introversion (Watson 1988). Similarly, research concerning fear appeals, as well as appraisal theories of emotion, have long suggested that efficacy (locus of control) can condition the experience of anger or anxiety in response to a given stimulus (Lazarus 1991; Witte and Allen 2000). Thus different people, or the same people at different times, may have dramatically different emotional experiences in response to the same political event, issue, or candidate.
In this chapter we explore the antecedents of emotional reactions to an important contemporary political issue: immigration. We examine the extent to which citizens' emotional reactions to increasing immigration can be explained by differences in their personal attributes and circumstances. In doing so, we focus on the long-standing distinction between deeply ingrained symbolic identities, or predispositions, on one hand, and material circumstances, or self-interest, on the other, as factors in political explanations. Affective intelligence theory suggests that emotional states condition the power of each of these factors in explaining political attitudes and behavior (Marcus, Neuman, and MacKuen 2000). This
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Publication information: Book title: The Affect Effect: Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behavior. Contributors: W. Russell Neuman - Editor, George E. Marcus - Editor, Ann N. Crigler - Editor, Michael Mackuen - Editor. Publisher: University of Chicago Press. Place of publication: Chicago. Publication year: 2007. Page number: 180.
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