Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Emotional Beliefs

  • Jonathan Mercer (a1)

A belief in alien abduction is an emotional belief, but so is a belief that Iran intends to build nuclear weapons, that one's country is good, that a sales tax is unjust, or that French decision makers are irresolute. Revolutionary research in the brain sciences has overturned conventional views of the relationship between emotion, rationality, and beliefs. Because rationality depends on emotion, and because cognition and emotion are nearly indistinguishable in the brain, one can view emotion as constituting and strengthening beliefs such as trust, nationalism, justice or credibility. For example, a belief that another's commitment is credible depends on one's selection (and interpretation) of evidence and one's assessment of risk, both of which rely on emotion. Observing that emotion and cognition co-produce beliefs has policy implications: how one fights terrorism changes if one views credibility as an emotional belief.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Emotional Beliefs
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Emotional Beliefs
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Emotional Beliefs
      Available formats
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Lawrence C. Becker 1996. Trust as Noncognitive Security About Motives. Ethics 107 (1):4361.

Meghana Bhatt , and Colin F. Camerer . 2005. Self-Referential Thinking and Equilibrium as States of Mind in Games: fMRI Evidence. Games and Economic Behavior 52 (2):424–59.

James Blair , Derek Mitchell , and Karina Blair . 2005. The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Isabelle Blanchette . 2006. The Effect of Emotion on Interpretation and Logic in a Conditional Reasoning Task. Memory & Cognition 34 (5):1112–25.

Sarah F. Brosnan , and Frans B. M. de Waal . 2003. Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay. Nature 425 (6955):297–99.

Colin F. Camerer , George Loewenstein , and Drazen Prelec . 2004. Neuroeconomics: Why Economics Needs Brains. Scandinavian Journal of Economics 106 (3):555–79.

Lisa A. Cameron 1999. Raising the Stakes in the Ultimatum Game: Experimental Evidence from Indonesia. Economic Inquiry 37 (1):4759.

Susan A. Clancy 2005. Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Neta C. Crawford 2000. The Passion of World Politics: Propositions on Emotion and Emotional Relationships. International Security 24 (4):116–56.

Antonio R. Damasio 2004. William James and the Modern Neurobiology of Emotion. In Emotion, Evolution, and Rationality, edited by Dylan Evans and Pierre Cruse , 314. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.

Edward L. Deci 1971. Effects of Externally Mediated Rewards on Intrinsic Motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 18 (1):105–15.

Marcel P. J. M. Dijkers 2005. Quality of Life of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury: A Review of Conceptualization, Measurement, and Research Findings. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 42 (3, Suppl. 1):87110.

James N. Druckman , and Rose McDermott . 2008. Emotion and the Framing of Risky Choice. Political Behavior 30 (3):297321.

Melissa L. Finucane , Ali Alhakami , Paul Slovic , and Stephen M. Johnson . 2000. The Affect Heuristic in Judgments of Risks and Benefits. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 13 (1):117.

Nico H. Frijda 1988. The Laws of Emotion. American Psychologist 43 (5):349–58.

Daniel T. Gilbert , Elizabeth C. Pinel , Timothy D. Wilson , Stephen J. Blumberg , and Thalia P. Wheatley . 1998. Immune Neglect: A Source of Durability Bias in Affective Forecasting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75 (3):617–38.

Sam Harris , Sameer A. Sheth , and Mark S. Cohen . 2008. Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief, and Uncertainty. Annals of Neurology 63 (2):141–47.

Ron E. Hassner 2006/2007. The Path to Intractability: Time and the Entrenchment of Territorial Disputes. International Security 31 (3):107–38.

Fritz Heider . 1958. The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. New York: Wiley.

Joseph Henrich , Robert Boyd , Samuel Bowles , Colin Camerer , Ernst Fehr , Herbert Gintis , and Richard McElreath . 2001. In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies. American Economic Review 91 (2):7378.

Christopher K. Hsee , Jiao Zhang , Fang Yu , and Yiheng Xi . 2003. Lay Rationalism and Inconsistency between Predicted Experience and Decision. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 16 (4):257–72.

Robert Jervis . 2006. Understanding Beliefs. Political Psychology 27 (5):641–63.

Karen Jones . 1996. Trust as an Affective Attitude. Ethics 107 (1):425.

Daniel Kahneman , and Alan B. Krueger . 2006. Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being. Journal of Economic Perspectives 20 (1):324.

Daniel Kahneman , and Amos Tversky . 1979. Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk. Econometrica 47 (2):263–92.

Brooks King-Casas , Damon Tomlin , Cedric Anen , Colin F. Camerer , Steven R. Quartz , and P. Read Montague . 2005. Getting to Know You: Reputation and Trust in a Two-Person Economic Exchange. Science 308 (5718):7883.

Jonathan Kirshner . 2000. Rationalist Explanations for War? Security Studies 10 (1):143–50.

Elly A. Konijn , Juliette H. Walma van der Molen , and Sander van Nes . 2009. Emotions Bias Perceptions of Realism in Audiovisual Media: Why We May Take Fiction for Real. Discourse Processes 46:309–40.

Michael Kosfeld , Markus Heinrichs , Paul J. Zak , Urs Fischbacher , and Ernst Fehr . 2005. Oxytocin Increases Trust in Humans. Nature 435 (7042):673–76.

Robyn A. LeBoeuf , and Eldar Shafir . 2003. Deep Thoughts and Shallow Frames: On the Susceptibility to Framing Effects. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 16 (2):7792.

Oded Löwenheim , and Gadi Heimann . 2008. Revenge in International Politics. Security Studies 17 (4):685724.

Rose McDermott . 2004b. Prospect Theory in Political Science: Gains and Losses from the First Decade. Political Psychology 25 (2):289312.

Jonathan Mercer . 2005a. Prospect Theory and Political Science. Annual Review of Political Science 8:121.

Gil Morrot , Frédéric Brochet , and Denis Dubourdieu . 2001. The Color of Odors. Brain and Language 79 (2):309–20.

W. Russell Neuman , George E. Marcus , Ann N. Crigler , and Michael MacKuen . 2007. Theorizing Affect's Effects. In The Affect Effect: Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behavior, edited by W. Russell Neuman , George E. Marcus , Ann N. Crigler , and Michael MacKuen , 120. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Elizabeth A. Phelps 2006. Emotion and Cognition: Insights from Studies of the Human Amygdala. Annual Review of Psychology 57:2753.

Wouter Poortinga , and Nick F. Pidgeon . 2005. Trust in Risk Regulation: Cause or Consequence of the Acceptability of GM Food? Risk Analysis 25 (1):199209.

Matthew Rabin . 2002. A Perspective on Psychology and Economics. European Economic Review 46 (4–5):657–85.

Alan S. Reifman , Richard P. Larrick , and Steven Fein . 1991. Temper and Temperature on the Diamond: The Heat-Aggression Relationship in Major League Baseball. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 17 (5):580–85.

James K. Rilling , David A. Gutman , Thorsten R. Zeh , Giuseppe Pagnoni , Gregory S. Berns , and Clinton D. Kilts . 2002. A Neural Basis for Social Cooperation. Neuron 35 (2):395405.

Andrew A. G. Ross 2006. Coming in from the Cold: Constructivism and Emotions. European Journal of International Relations 12 (2):197222.

Thomas C. Schelling 2006. An Astonishing Sixty Years: The Legacy of Hiroshima. American Economic Review 96 (4):929–37.

Eldar Shafir , and Robyn A. LeBoeuf . 2002. Rationality. Annual Review of Psychology 53:491517.

Vaughn P. Shannon , and Michael Dennis . 2007. Militant Islam and the Futile Fight for Reputation. Security Studies 16 (2):287317.

Paul Slovic , Melissa L. Finucane , Ellen Peters , and Donald G. MacGregor . 2004. Risk as Analysis and Risk as Feelings: Some Thoughts About Affect, Reason, Risk and Rationality. Risk Analysis 24 (2):311–22.

Craig A. Smith , and Richard S. Lazarus . 1993. Appraisal Components, Core Relational Themes, and the Emotions. Cognition and Emotion 7 (3–4):233–69.

A. Verdejo-García , M. Pérez-García , and A. Bechara . 2006. Emotion, Decision-Making and Substance Dependence: A Somatic-Marker Model of Addiction. Current Neuropharmacology 4 (1):1731.

Vamik D. Volkan 1985. The Need to Have Enemies and Allies: A Developmental Approach. Political Psychology 6 (2):219–47.

Stephen M. Walt 1999. Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies. International Security 23 (4):548.

Drew Westen , Pavel S. Blagov , Keith Harenski , Clint Kilts , and Stephan Hamann . 2006. Neural Bases of Motivated Reasoning: An fMRI Study of Emotional Constraints on Partisan Political Judgment in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 18 (11):1947–58.

Robert B. Zajonc 1980. Feeling and Thinking: Preferences Need No Inferences. American Psychologist 35 (2):151–75.

Robert B. Zajonc , Sheila T. Murphy , and Marita Inglehart . 1989. Feeling and Facial Efference: Implications of the Vascular Theory of Emotion. Psychological Review 96 (3):395416.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 22
Total number of PDF views: 370 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 919 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.