The Journal of Politics

ARTICLES

Election Night’s Alright for Fighting: The Role of Emotions in Political Participation

Nicholas A. Valentinoa1, Ted Bradera2, Eric W. Groenendyka3, Krysha Gregorowicza4 and Vincent L. Hutchingsa5

a1 University of Michigan

a2 University of Michigan

a3 University of Memphis

a4 University of Michigan

a5 University of Michigan

Abstract

A large literature has established a persistent association between the skills and resources citizens possess and their likelihood of participating in politics. However, the short-term motivational forces that cause citizens to employ those skills and expend resources in one election but not the next have only recently received attention. Findings in political psychology suggest specific emotions may play an important role in mobilization, but the question of “which emotions play what role?” remains an important area of debate. Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory and the Affective Intelligence model, we predict that anger, more than anxiety or enthusiasm, will mobilize. We find evidence for the distinctive influence of anger in a randomized experiment, a national survey of the 2008 electorate, and in pooled American National Election Studies from 1980 to 2004.

(Received July 30 2009)

(Accepted July 05 2010)

(Online publication January 14 2011)

Footnotes

Nicholas Valentino is associate professor of political science and communication studies and research associate professor in the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106.

Ted Brader is associate professor of political science and research associate professor in the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106.

Eric Groenendyk is assistant professor of political science at the University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee 38152.

Krysha Gregorowicz is a Ph.D. Candidate in Communication Studies at The University of Michgan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

Vincent Hutchings is professor of political science and research professor in the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106.

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