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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Emotional Public Policy: Understanding Feeling and Thinking Interactions in the Policy Process

International relations
Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Moshe Maor
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Workshop Co-Director
Tereza Capelos
University of Birmingham

The aim of this workshop is to establish and promote strong connections between research in political psychology and public policy, focusing specifically on the empirical and theoretical investigation of the role of emotions in the policy process. Political psychological insights in the study of emotionality highlight the value of affect for political decision-making (Capelos, 2011). Emotions condition citizens‘ political judgments and behaviors particularly during crises and tensions, determining issue preferences, the choice and evaluations of parties and their leaders, as well as reactions and orientations towards groups in society. The role of emotions has been studied extensively in the context of the global financial crisis, the challenges of EU integration, terrorism, international conflict, political radicalization and political communication practices (Capelos and Katsanidou 2018, Capelos et al. 2018, Capelos and Van Troost 2012, Capelos and Smilovitz 2008; Huddy et al. 2002).

The value of emotions has also been appreciated by a handful of leading public policy scholars. Characteristically, Simon (1967, 1983) noted that thought processes, decisions and everyday behaviors may be significantly affected by emotion. Jones and Baumgartner (2005a) argued that bounded rationality leads to disproportionate information processing, and that emotion is the gateway to selective attention. The role of emotion has also been addressed by focusing on the emotional quality of an idea, which explains why some ideas are more successful than others (Cox and Béland 2013). This is related to the affect heuristic, which refers to people’s tendency to base their judgment of a product, activity, or policy on what they think and feel about it (e.g., Finucane et al. 2000). Linking political emotions towards leaders with policy evaluation Capelos (2010) examined experimentally how negative and positive affect shape the way citizens process information about policy issues. In addition, the role of emotion in policy has been particularly addressed in the area of climate change, wherein the experience of negative affect was found to be related to climate change policy support (Leiserowitz, 2006; Smith and Leiserowitz, 2014), and the incidental occurrence of emotions—triggered by events unrelated to climate change—was found to influence mitigation policy preferences (Lu and Schuldt, 2015). The role of emotion has also been conceptually integrated into the study of policy over- and underreaction (Maor 2012, 2014a), as well as the study of policy bubbles (Maor 2014b, 2016, Jones at al 2014), disproportionate policy response (Maor 2018), and emotional entrepreneurs (Maor 2017; Maor and Gross 2015).

This workshop invites theoretically informed empirical and conceptual contributions over a broad methodological spectrum (case-study, comparative analysis, experiments, surveys, interviews) which address one or more of the following key questions:

1. How do emotions manifest themselves at different stages of the policy cycle?
2. How do cognitive, emotional, organizational, and institutional factors interact to explain the policy process?
3. What are the implications of emotions for policy over- and underreaction as well as policy bubbles?
4. How effective are emotion regulation strategies employed by political and policy actors under different emotion strengths, different emotions, different groups of emotions, and varying emotional intensity?
5. How can emotion regulation be used to bolster the credibility of deterrent threats?
6. How can emotion regulation be used to promote international interventions or institutionalize emotions in peace and war systems, as well as in other forms of strategic interactions?

We look forward to receiving papers from senior academics and early careers researchers. We hope that the papers presented at the workshop will shed light on the role of emotion in building or undermining confidence in public policy among policymakers and the general public; highlight the challenges and opportunities of trust-building, study the interaction between self-reinforcing processes and the contagion of ideas and emotions which reinforces the confidence (or the lack thereof) of the general public and/or policymakers in the policy; examine the ways media attention and policymaking activities become intertwined in self-reinforcing processes via the impact they have on emotion towards policies; identify the ways in which policy bubbles and negative policy bubbles are driven, among others, by emotions; and provide insights on the role of emotional factors in processes by which policies come to be overvalued or devalued.

Relation to Existing Research in Public Policy

This emerging subfield of public policy is inspired by the work of Herbert Simon (1967, 1983) on bounded rationality; Baumgartner and Jones’s (2005) studies of disproportionate information processing; Robert Cox and Daniel Béland’s (2013) study of the emotional qualities of policy ideas; Bryan Jones and co-authors’ work on policy bubbles (Jones, Thomas and Wolfe 2014), and Moshe Maor’s works on policy overreaction (2012), policy underreaction (2014a); policy bubbles (2014b), negative policy bubbles (2015), disproportionate policy response and emotional entrepreneurs (2015, with Gross; 2017).

Likely Participants

This workshop proposal is endorsed by the ECPR Political Psychology Standing Group as its thematic focus on emotions is particularly relevant to its members. The workshop will, therefore, attract primarily political psychology and public policy scholars as well as scholars from political sociology, political economy, political geography, international relations, political theory, public administration, regulation, and public management.

Likely Policy Areas

Our aim is to stimulate a discussion across a wide range of policy areas, such as environment, climate change, energy, transport, foreign affairs, social and welfare policy, healthcare, education, austerity policy, immigration, asylum policy and so on. The workshop also invites contributions that identify how the role of emotion differ across different types of policies (e.g., distributive or redistributive policies, morality policy).

Recommended Texts

Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (2005). The Politics of Attention. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Capelos, T. (2010). Feeling the Issue: How Citizens' Affective Reactions and Leadership Perceptions Shape Policy Evaluations. Journal of Political Marketing 9:9-33.
Capelos T. (2011) Emotions in Politics. In George T. Kurian (ed) The Encyclopedia of Political Science (EPS). (pp 500-502) Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Capelos, T. and Katsanidou, A. (2018) Reactionary Politics: Uncovering the Psychological Roots of ‘Anti’ Preferences in European Integration and Immigration Debates. Political Psychology, 36(9) 1271-1288.
Capelos, T., Exadaktylos T, Chrona, S and Poulopoulou, M. (2018). The Emotional Economy of the European Financial Crisis in the UK Press. International Journal of Communication, Special issue on News Media and the Emotional Public Sphere, 12, 2088-2113
Capelos, T. and van Troost D. (2012). Reason, Passion and Islam: the impact of fear and anger on political tolerance”. In Flood et al (eds), Islam in the Plural: Identities, (Self) Perceptions and Politics, Brill, Netherlands, pp. 75-96.
Capelos, T. and Smilovitz J. (2008) As a matter of feeling: Emotions and the choice of mediator tactics in international mediation. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 3: 63-85 (March)
Cox, R. H. & Béland, D. (2013) Valence, Policy Ideas, and the Rise of Sustainability. Governance, 26(2), 307-328.
Huddy, L., Feldman, S., Capelos, T. Provost, C. (2002). The Consequences of Terrorism: Disentangling the Effects of Personal and National Threat. Political Psychology, vol 23, 3: 485-510.
Jones, B. D., H.F. Thomas & M. Wolfe (2014). Policy Bubbles. Policy Studies Journal 42(1): 146-171.
Leiserowitz, A. (2006). Climate Change Risk Perception and Policy Preferences: The Role of Affect, Imagery, and Values. Climate Change 7: 45-72.
Lu, H. & Schuldt, J.P. (2015). Exploring the Role of Incidental Emotions in Support for Climate Change Policy. Climate Change 131: 719-726.
Maor, M. (2012) Policy Overreaction. Journal of Public Policy 32, 231–259.
Maor, M. (2014a) Policy Persistence, Risk Estimation and Policy Underreaction. Policy Sciences 47, 425–443.
Maor, M. (2014b) Policy Bubbles: Policy Overreaction and Positive Feedback. Governance 27, 469–487.
Maor, M. (2016) Emotion-Driven Negative Policy Bubbles. Policy Sciences 49, 191–210.
Maor, M. (2017a) The Implications of the Emerging Disproportionate Policy Perspective for the New Policy Design Studies. Policy Sciences 50, 383–398.
Maor, M. (2017b) Policy Entrepreneurs in Policy Valuation Processes: The Case of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 35, 1401–1417.
Maor, M. (2017c) Disproportionate Policy Response. In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. DOI:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.168.
Maor, M. & Gross, J. (2015) Emotion Regulation by Emotional Entrepreneurs: Implications for Political Science and International Relations.” Paper presented at the 73rd Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, April 16–19, 2015, Chicago.
Simon H.A. (1967). Motivational and emotional controls of cognition. Psychological Review 74: 29-39
Simon H.A. (1983). Reason in human affairs. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Slovic, P., et al. (2004). Risk as Analysis and Risk as Feelings. Risk Analysis 24: 311-322.
Smith, N. & Leiserowitz, A. (2014). The Role of Emotion in Global Warming Policy Support and Opposition. Risk Analysis 34: 937-948.

Paper List

Title Details
Brand Management for Crisis: Tourism, Security, and Narrative Control in Post-Terror Contexts View Paper Details
Emotional Advocacy in EU External Border Control View Paper Details
Feel Confidence, Feel Trust: Emotional Strategies of Managing Uncertainties During Policy Evaluation and Practice View Paper Details
Leadership Evaluations in Times of Crisis: The Case of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Recent Migration Debate View Paper Details
Mapping the Emotional Landscape of Consultation Contributions View Paper Details
Neuroscience in Political Science: a New Approach to Research into Political Behaviour? View Paper Details
Notre-Dame De Paris, Worldwide Emotion Shaping National and European Heritage Policy View Paper Details
Regulation Strategies for Conflicting Emotions: Obama’s Quandaries on the Red Line and the Fight Against ISIS View Paper Details
The Canary in the Coal Mine: Mythical Institutions, Shared Vulnerabilities, Emotions, and Nonlinear Dynamics in Politics and Policy View Paper Details
The Role of Emotional Entrepreneurs in Health Policy Reforms During the Greek Bailouts: What Makes Reform Successful and Why? View Paper Details
The Role of Emotions in Policy Process Research – A Mechanismic Perspective View Paper Details
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