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The Rationalizing Voter

$119.00 (P)

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology

  • Authors:
  • Milton Lodge, Stony Brook University, State University of New York
  • Charles S. Taber, Stony Brook University, State University of New York
  • Date Published: April 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521763509

$ 119.00 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Political behavior is the result of innumerable unnoticed forces and conscious deliberation is often a rationalization of automatically triggered feelings and thoughts. Citizens are very sensitive to environmental contextual factors such as the title “President” preceding “Obama” in a newspaper headline, upbeat music or patriotic symbols accompanying a campaign ad, or question wording and order in a survey, all of which have their greatest influence when citizens are unaware. This book develops and tests a dual-process theory of political beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, claiming that all thinking, feeling, reasoning, and doing have an automatic component as well as a conscious deliberative component. The authors are especially interested in the impact of automatic feelings on political judgments and evaluations. This research is based on laboratory experiments, which allow the testing of five basic hypotheses: hot cognition, automaticity, affect transfer, affect contagion, and motivated reasoning.

    • Brings together three points of study in an innovative way: motivated biases in political reasoning; unconscious influences on political deliberation and behavior; and primacy of feelings over thinking in political cognition
    • Based upon laboratory experiments testing five basic hypotheses: hot cognition, automaticity, affect transfer, affect contagion and motivated reasoning
    • Demonstrates that conscious deliberation is often the result of automatically-triggered feelings and thoughts
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    • Winner of the 2014 Robert E. Lane Award, Political Psychology Section, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    “This is the most important book written on public opinion in the last quarter century, and it will drive research to come for years. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the basic foundation of democracy: public opinion.” – James N. Druckman, Northwestern University

    "For decades Milt Lodge and Chuck Taber have been pioneers in the effort to incorporate knowledge from psychology and neuroscience about the unconscious, affectively charged processing of information to enrich standard models of decision making in political science. This is their magnum opus, and it shows how successful the effort has been. Every reader will learn something important from this book."
    John T. Jost, New York University

    "Lodge and Taber’s The Rationalizing Voter makes a major contribution to the study of voter decision making. The primary argument of the book is that almost everything we do (including almost everything political we do) is guided by fast, reflexive, and unconscious information processing in the brain. If the authors are right – and I think they are – the book might be better titled 'The Illusion of Choice in Democratic Politics'. No scholar of elections and voting behavior can ignore this work."
    Richard R. Lau, Rutgers University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521763509
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 51 b/w illus. 13 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Unconscious thinking on political judgment, reasoning, and behavior
    2. The John Q. Public model of political information processing
    3. Experimental tests of automatic hot cognition
    4. Implicit identifications in political information processing
    5. Affect transfer and the evaluation of political candidates
    6. Affective contagion and political thinking
    7. Motivated political reasoning
    8. A computational model of the citizen as motivated reasoner
    9. Affect, cognition, emotion: which way the causal arrow?

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Comparative Political Institutions (PhD seminar)
    • Human Behavior as Rational Action
    • Public Opinion
    • Public Opinion, Voting, and Elections
  • Authors

    Milton Lodge, Stony Brook University, State University of New York
    Milton Lodge is a Distinguished University Professor of Political Science at Stony Brook University. He is the author of three books and numerous research articles in political science and psychology, a Fulbright Research Scholar (Nepal), a Research Scholar at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Charles S. Taber, Stony Brook University, State University of New York
    Charles S. Taber is a Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Graduate School at Stony Brook University. He has written several books and many articles on political psychology and computational modeling in the social sciences. He is the winner of nine research grants from the National Science Foundation. Professor Taber is a past editor of the journal Political Psychology and serves on several editorial boards in political science.


    • Winner of the 2014 Robert E. Lane Award, Political Psychology Section, American Political Science Association
    • Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, Experimental Research Section, American Political Science Association
    • Co-Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, Migration and Citizenship Section, American Political Science Association

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