Current emotion research in political science: How emotions help democracy overcome its collective action problem


Though scholars have long acknowledged the vital role of affect in politics, recent research has sought to more thoroughly integrate emotions into models of political behavior. Emotions may prove to be the missing piece in a variety of puzzles with which political scientists have struggled for decades. At its core, democracy poses a collective action problem. For each individual citizen, the cost of productive political engagement often outweighs the additional policy benefits to be gained from such behavior. However, for a variety of reasons, emotions appear to motivate citizens to at times break out of "cold" individual utility calculation and engage in politics. Still, emotions may also bias information processing, so scholars should keep this in mind as we continue to build on our understanding of emotion's role in politics. © ISRE and SAGE 2011.

Publication Title

Emotion Review