Pathos and policy: the power of emotions in shaping perceptions of international relations



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Texas A&M University


Current approaches to foreign policy decision making and international conflict have ignored the role of emotions as variables influencing foreign policy choices. However, a growing area of political research suggests that emotions are of critical importance to many aspects of political life. Predominant foreign policy decision making models currently attend to either rational calculations or ??????cold?????? cognitive processes and heuristics. These models provide little theoretical space for propositions about how enduring and intense emotions such as hatred and fear influence perceptions and interpretations of interstate conflict. In this paper we propose a model which addresses this deficiency in foreign policy decision making research. A theory of emotions is introduced and integrated into the existing research on foreign policy decision making. Hypotheses pertaining to the influence of negative emotions on information processing and choice in international relations are derived from the model and tested in a multimethod setting. Findings are reported and discussed within the framework of existing empirical research on process-oriented models of foreign policy decision making.