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The Structure of Emotional Response: 1984 Presidential Candidates

  • George E. Marcus (a1)

Abstract

Over the past two decades psychological models of affect have changed from valence (one-dimensional) models to multiple-dimensional models. The most recent models, circumplex models, are two-dimensional. Feeling thermometer measures, which derive their theoretical logic from earlier (valence) models of emotional appraisal, are shown to be confounded. Underlying the variation obtained using feeling thermometer measures are two dimensions of emotional response, mastery (positive emotionality) and threat (negative emotionality). Analysis of the 1984 NES survey suggests that positive emotional response is twice as influential as negative emotional response in predicting presidential candidate vote disposition to the presidential candidates. Reliance on emotional response is shown to be uniformly influential across various strata of the electorate.

Policy considerations have little direct influence on vote disposition, though policy considerations are indirectly related to vote disposition through the influence of issues on the degree of feelings of threat evoked by the candidates.

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