Gut-level emotions and the presidential vote

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Over the past decade, political scientists have with increasing frequency demonstrated that emotions strongly influence mass political behavior. One shortcoming of this research has been the failure to distinguish between fundamentally different sources of emotional response. In this article, I draw on theories of emotional response developed in social psychology to argue that emotional reactions to presidential candidates are partly rooted in what people know about the political world (cognitively mediated emotion) and partly independent of political cognition (gut-level emotion). Using data from the 1984 and 1988 National Election Studies, I develop instruments of gut-level positivity and negativity and show that these factors strongly influence the presidential vote.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-229
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1997


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