Emotions in politics

Florian van Leeuwen, Michael Bang Petersen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific

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Politics is the process of negotiating resources, both in the here-and-now and in the future, by establishing rules about resource allocation. Previous work has argued that adaptations for politics include capacities for political judgment (including senses of self-interest, others’ interests, and the dynamics of collective opinion) and political behavior (including adaptations for persuasion, informational vigilance, acquiring status, and coalitional rivalry). Here, we review the key role played by emotions for both political judgment and behavior. First, we detail how emotions that specifically evolved for negotiation (e.g., anger and envy) influence political judgment and behavior. Second, we review how a number of emotions that were not designed for negotiation also influence political judgment and behavior. Specifically, we review work on the relation between disgust and political attitudes for illustration. Overall, we argue for the view that emotions are inherent to politics. Politics—including persuasion, ideology, social coordination, and the pursuit of long-term political goals—cannot be disentangled from emotions. Hence, the classical opposition between emotion and rationality in politics is misleading.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of evolution and the emotions
EditorsLaith Al-Shawaf, Todd Shackelford
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


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