Politics and the Equilibrium of Fear:
Can Strategies and Emotions Interact?
ARTHUR LUPIA AND JESSE O. MENNINC
Political scientists seek improved explanations of political behaviors and outcomes. Improvement comes not only from the promulgation of new concepts for thinking about politics but also from refined understandings of the conditions under which more established concepts apply. Political psychologists engage in such explorations. So do game theorists. We argue that these two groups have something to offer one another, something that can improve explanations of some of the social behaviors on which these groups focus. To set the stage for this offering, we begin with a brief description of what each group of scholars does.
Political psychologists use research concerning human thought and perception from other disciplines to inform and motivate their work. In this field there are no widely accepted guidelines for what it means to engage in the practice. Some political psychologists follow standard social psychological practices, designing research from a laboratory-based stimulusresponse paradigm and running experiments whose relation to specific scientific questions is simple and clear. Others follow practices that are common to the study of public opinion and voting behavior. They draw inferences from regressions conducted on answers to multipurpose questions placed on large surveys. Still, political psychologists embed experiments in surveys. So instead of being defined by use of a single method, political psychology is defined by the use of an expanding range of methods.
Game theorists seek precise explanations of the causes of individual behaviors and collective outcomes. They use mathematized premises and conclusions to draw logically coherent inferences about when and why
We thank Adam Seth Levine for research and the volume editors, Ted Brader, and
Elizabeth Suhay for helpful advice.