Cognitive Neuroscience and Politics:
Recent advances in the cognitive neurosciences have generated widespread interest across a number of disciplines in the inner workings of the human brain and their impact on important features of human behavior. In particular, this work has focused new attention and energy on the impact of emotion on various aspects of human psychology, including attention, motivation, memory, perception, language, learning, judgment, and decision making. This volume reflects the reconsideration of how emotion and thought intertwine in political contexts. Much of this work has emphasized the ways in which emotion influences political judgment and decision making. At first, this focus may appear unduly restrictive. Yet it is hoped that these applications represent merely the beginning of a larger enterprise that will spark many more investigations of the ways in which affect can influence important political outcomes through processes that go beyond judgment and decision making into the realms of motivation, learning, memory, and perception.
The goal in much of this work is to provide a richer understanding of the ways in which individual emotional reactions can be aggregated into collective political enterprises, as well as how political events and actions can provide feedback that in turn can affect individual feelings. Research in this area also seeks to bridge the theoretical and methodological gaps between the real micro experience of instant emotional response and the real macro world of political behavior.
This chapter begins with a discussion of some of the larger issues raised by the study of emotion and politics. This overview reasserts the importance of incorporating emotion into the study of politics and political science. The second section of this chapter focuses on the preceding chapters of this volume, noting points of agreement and disagreement