Politicians can use fear to manipulate the public

March 04, 2009

Ann Arbor, MI--March 4, 2009--A new study in the American Journal of Political Science explores how and when politicians can use fear to manipulate the public into supporting policies they might otherwise oppose. Politicians' use of fear is more likely with regard to topics that are abstract and difficult for citizens (and/or the media) to observe.

Arthur Lupia and Jesse O. Menning examined how select attributes of fear affect a politician's ability to scare citizens into supporting policies that they would otherwise reject. They argue that politicians' use of fear will depend on critical aspects of mass psychology.

For example, manipulation is more likely when the public doesn't understand an issue or is unlikely to be able to overcome the fear created by politicians. By contrast, the easier it is for citizens to observe that the politician has made false statements, the less likely it is that politicians will attempt to use fear at all.

"A greater understanding of when fear can and cannot be used to scare citizens into supporting bad policies can help journalists and scholars more effectively interpret important historical events," the authors note. "It can help them think about whether, and to what extent, elite manipulation of citizen emotions contributed to initial public support for these kinds of government actions."
-end-
This study is published in the American Journal of Political Science. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Arthur Lupia is affiliated with the University of Michigan and can be reached for questions at lupia@umich.edu.

The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) publishes research in all major areas of political science including American politics, public policy, international relations, comparative politics, political methodology, and political theory. Founded in 1956, the AJPS publishes articles that make outstanding contributions to scholarly knowledge about notable theoretical concerns, puzzles or controversies in any subfield of political science.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

Wiley

Related Fear Articles from Brightsurf:

How does the brain process fear?
CSHL Professor Bo Li's team explores the brain circuits that underlie fear.

The overlap between fear and anxiety brain circuits
Fear and anxiety reflect overlapping brain circuits, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.

Fear of missing out impacts people of all ages
The social anxiety that other people are having fun without you, also known as FoMO, is more associated with loneliness, low self-esteem and low self-compassion than with age, according to a recent study led by Washington State University psychology professor Chris Barry.

How fear transforms into anxiety
University of New Mexico researchers identify for the first time the brain-wide neural correlates of the transition from fear to anxiety.

How associative fear memory is formed in the brain
Using a mouse model, a pair of UC Riverside researchers demonstrated the formation of fear memory involves the strengthening of neural pathways between two brain areas: the hippocampus, which responds to a particular context and encodes it, and the amygdala, which triggers defensive behavior, including fear responses.

What makes fear decrease
In uncanny situations, the mere presence of an unknown person can have a calming effect.

With these neurons, extinguishing fear is its own reward
The same neurons responsible for encoding reward also form new memories to suppress fearful ones, according to new research by scientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT.

Having to defend one's sexuality increases fear of childbirth
In order to help people with fear of childbirth, there must be trust between the patient and the healthcare staff.

Fear of hospitalization keeps men from talking about suicide
Fear of psychiatric hospitalization is one of the primary reasons that older men -- an age and gender group at high risk for suicide -- don't talk about suicide with their physicians.

Brain activity predicts fear of pain
Researchers applied a machine learning technique that could potentially translate patterns of activity in fear-processing brain regions into scores on questionnaires used to assess a patient's fear of pain.

Read More: Fear News and Fear Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.