Political Cognition: The 19th Annual Carnegie Symposium on Cognition

Political Cognition: The 19th Annual Carnegie Symposium on Cognition

Political Cognition: The 19th Annual Carnegie Symposium on Cognition

Political Cognition: The 19th Annual Carnegie Symposium on Cognition

Excerpt

This book joins two major intellectual traditions that have, until now, largely remained interdependent of each other: cognitive psychology and political behavior. The gradual replacement of animal models with information processing models in experimental psychology really began to take hold about 20 years ago, producing a field self-consciously identifying itself as Cognitive Psychology. At the same time, political scientists were accumulating vast amounts of empirical data on the political behavior of both mass and elites, only somewhat guided by the social psychological theory of the day. By the early 1980s, both traditions had developed to a high level of sophistication and had developed a substantial corpus of theory and research that had successfully challenged and altered conventional models of information processing and political behavior, respectively. Just as important, both have been concerned with the same core phenomena--the human individual's perceiving, thinking, judging, and deciding about complex alternatives in complex fields of information.

The time seems ripe for provoking a concerted effort to apply the principles and methods of cognitive psychology to the core phenomena of political behavior. Our goal is to speed up application of cognitive theories to political behavior by provoking assessment of early efforts at application, by the early-appliers themselves, and by cognitive psychologists and political behavior researchers who have not been involved in this bridging effort. We do not wish to produce interdisciplinary contact where none usually exists. However, such applications happen sooner or later on their own, whenever exciting and relevant basic theory exists in neighboring disciplines, just as rational choice theory has been incorporated into political behavior research because of its great heuristic potential.

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