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Emotion and Political Psychology

Shana Kushner Gadarian, Ted Brader

Oxford University Press, September 2023


For many years political psychology and scholars of politics in general neglected the study of emotion. Whatever the reasons for neglect, it no longer holds true. Emotions are best understood as reactions to signals about the significance that circumstances hold for an individual’s goals and well-being. The source of those signals can be external or internal.

The chapter reviews major theoretical approaches and questions of methodology in the study of emotion. The remainder of the chapter focuses heavily on research into the causes of politically relevant emotions and their consequences for political behavior across a wide variety of settings. The chapter also draws attention to the ways in which elite actors attempt to manipulate emotions of citizens to further their political goals.

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