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Human Emotion and Foreign Policy

22 Pages 5609 Words June 2017

In this essay, I will argue that we should consider the role of human emotions as an important factor in foreign policy decision-making. Over the last three decades, research has found substantial evidence of the influence of emotions in several areas of political science and international relations. Studies have shown that emotions affect political attitudes (Redlawsk 2006), political preferences (Brader, Valentino, and Suhay 2008), and policy decisions (Marcus, Neuman, and MacKuen 2000). These robust findings show that we cannot contest that emotions significantly influence political decision-making.
Over the last few decades, International Relations and Political Science scholars have worked to understand how emotions, such as compassion, fear, hate, embarrassment, anger, revenge, and ‘saving-face,' have played a major role in foreign policy decision-making. However, one has to note that these studies have assumed that a person or a group of collective identity drives the perception, interpretation, evaluation, and response to international political events (Snyder, Bruck, and Sapin 2002).
To bring my point closer to ‘home,' recent newspaper headlines describe world events using emotions such as ‘anger,' ‘rage’ and ‘hatred.' The undercurrent of emotional rancor and bitterness are displayed at varying levels within the domestic and international affairs of India and Pakistan, Jews and Palestine, Albania and Serbia, and the United States and China, to name only a few. Against these events and happenings, it is clear that emotions play a significant role in foreign policy and foreign policy decision-making. This paper is written in three main sections. Firstly, it will introduce the theory of emotions, in particular, integral and incidental. Secondly, I have used two case studies to showcase the play of emotions in foreign policy decision-making by unpacking and analyzing the significant role of emotions in the foreign po...

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