ERIC Number: ED224732
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Neurophysiology and Rationality in Political Thinking.
Peterson, Steven A.
Research both in cognitive psychology and psychobiology suggests that political behavior is often less rational than individuals believe it to be. Information processing, memory, and decision making are interlinked processes. Studies in cognitive psychology reveal that even though decision making requires rationality, individuals often adopt shortcuts (heuristics) in decisional processes. For example, people tend to remember instances which confirm their beliefs; make decisions based on the most easily accessible information stored in their memories; generalize on the basis of small samples; attribute other people's behavior to predispositions rather than consider the situation; and exhibit overconfidence in their conclusions. Further, psychobiological theories speculate that these heuristics probably operate below the conscious level; the outputs (decisions) made on an unconscious level then become accepted as valid thought during conscious thought processes. Research also indicates that both the masses and the politically elite (trained scientists) are susceptible to the use of heuristics and poor information processing. The costs may be high in many political decisions, especially when leaders are convinced they are behaving rationally. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (Denver, CO, September 2-5, 1982). Not available in paper copy due to marginal legibility throughout original document.