Alberto Corona, Harvard College ’17

Abstract

Emotions, including emotional reactions to irrelevant and external events, have previously been shown to influence political decision-making (in particular, vote choice), but have not been linked to citizens’ policy preferences. This paper investigates whether irrelevant fear can cause individuals to hold more risk-averse opinions on public policy changes. In an experimental set- up, participants who were primed to experience fear responded in a more risk-averse (pro status quo) way to a question regarding proposed changes to public policy. Limitations of the findings and avenues for further research are discussed.

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