Putting the Affect Effect
The three chapters in this section provide philosophical and neuroscientific foundations for the study of emotions and politics. From very different research traditions, they document the interrelatedness of emotion and rationality and demonstrate why political judgments and behavior require both. There are many challenges in joining together these distinct disciplinary approaches. Concepts are defined differently across disciplines and over time. Levels of analysis and measurement cover the whole range—from the cellular level to the cross-cultural dimension. Research methodologies vary widely. Theoretical assumptions about the underlying processes of human understanding are contested. But, as we shall see, the various contributors turn these challenges into opportunities by clarifying definitions, articulating the underlying theoretical assumptions, and testing hypotheses on a wide range of data. By carrying on conversations across research traditions, we can produce better science and further understanding of the processes underlying political judgment and behavior.
The chapter by Michael A. Neblo sets the theoretical stage by showing how three philosophers' thinking about the emotions continues to be relevant for political psychological research. Neblo takes a cognitive approach to argue that emotions were socially constructed for canonical thinkers who presented integrated theories of politics. Instead of applying psychological theories to politics, as is often done today, Neblo argues that philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Hume were systematic thinkers who grounded their ethical and political theories in a descriptive psychology of human experience. Emotions are central to human experience and, thus, to each of their philosophies. By analyzing their major texts, Neblo shows how Plato offers a theory that interpenetrates emotion