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Fear, anger and enthusiasm about the European Union: Effects of emotional reactions on public preferences towards European integration

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How do emotions affect public opinion on the European Union? This article advances existing literature that focuses on cue-taking, utilitarianism and identity by arguing that emotional reactions are important to understanding citizen attitudes towards the European Union. This is because discrete emotions such as fear, anger and enthusiasm affect how individuals deal with threats and how they seek out, process and use infor- mation. We hypothesise that, compared to anxious citizens, those angry with the European Union are more likely to wish to leave the European Union, less receptive to cost–benefit considerations, and less nuanced in their opinions about integration. Our analyses, carried out using a survey conducted in the UK in April 2015, support our hypotheses. These results help us predict the effectiveness of political strategies, e.g. in referendum campaigns.
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Fear, anger and enthusiasm about the EU:
Effects of emotional reactions on public preferences towards European integration
Sofia Vasilopoulou, Department of Politics, University of York, York, UK
Markus Wagner, Department of Government, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Abstract
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How do emotions affect public opinion on the EU? This article advances existing literature
that focuses on cue-taking, utilitarianism and identity by arguing that emotional reactions are
important to understanding citizen EU attitudes. This is because discrete emotions such as
fear, anger and enthusiasm affect how individuals deal with threats and how they seek out,
process and use information. We hypothesise that, compared to anxious citizens, those angry
with the EU are more likely to wish to leave the EU, less receptive to cost-benefit
considerations and less nuanced in their opinions about integration. Our analyses, carried out
using a survey conducted in the UK in April 2015 (n=3.000), support our hypotheses. These
results help us predict the effectiveness of political strategies, e.g. in referendum campaigns.
Keywords: Anger, emotional reactions, enthusiasm, Euroscepticism, fear
Corresponding author:
Sofia Vasilopoulou, Department of Politics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10
5DD, UK!!
Email: sofia.vasilopoulou@york.ac.uk
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Introduction
What explains public preferences towards European integration? A review article of EU
public opinion identifies three prominent approaches: cue taking, utilitarianism and identity
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(Hobolt and de Vries, 2016). The first approach postulates that citizens evaluate the EU
through proxies, such as national institutions (e.g. Anderson, 1998; Armingeon and Ceka,
2014) or party cues (Steenbergen et al., 2007). The utilitarian approach posits that support for
integration is a function of economic utility related to either the individual’s cost-benefit
analysis of European integration or the country’s economy (e.g. Anderson and Reichert, 1995;
Gabel and Whitten, 1997; Gomez, 2015). The identity approach suggests that European
identity may act as a buffer against hostility towards the EU. In contrast, exclusive
conceptions of national identity and perceptions of threat posed by other cultures are
associated with opposition to the EU (e.g. Carey, 2002; Hooghe and Marks, 2009; McLaren,
2002; see also Kentmen-Cin and Erisen (2017) on anti-immigrant attitudes).
This article advances the literature by taking into account individuals’ emotional
reactions to the EU. Individuals’ discrete emotions such as anger, fear and enthusiasm affect
how they deal with threats, how they form preferences, and how they seek out, process and
use information. Anger activates a different mental system from fear (Cacioppo et al., 1999;
MacKuen et al., 2010; Marcus and MacKuen, 1993; Weber, 2012). Anger activates the
approach/disposition system, lowers risk estimates, and leads individuals to try to remove
perceived threats while relying on instinctive routines. In contrast, fear is related to the
avoidance/surveillance system, makes individuals more risk-averse and cautious, and leads to
an increased search for information (Brader et al., 2010; Carver and Harmon-Jones, 2009;
Druckman and McDermott, 2008; Lerner and Keltner, 2000, 2001; Valentino et al., 2009,
2011; Smith et al., 2008). Enthusiasm is different from anger and fear due to its positive
valence. In terms of its behavioural consequences, enthusiasm is associated with positive
goal-oriented behaviour, but tends to be more similar to anger than to fear in that it tends to
reinforce people’s habitual behaviours and existing political choices (e.g. partisanship),
minimises perceived risks and reduces reliance on information (Isbell et al., 2006; Lerner and
Keltner, 2001; Marcus et al., 2000; Valentino et al., 2008; see also Ladd and Lenz, 2008).
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Despite the fact that emotions are a key topic in the literature on political behaviour,
only one published study has examined their role in understanding EU attitudes, specifically
in the context of vote choice in the Irish referendum on the fiscal compact treaty (Garry,
2014). The study finds that emotional reactions tend to condition the extent to which voting is
driven by attitudes towards domestic politics. Risky framing matters for vote choice: because
voting against the treaty was successfully painted as the riskier option, fearful citizens were
more likely to vote yes, with angry voters more likely to choose no. Garry’s analysis shows
that instrumental, issue-based considerations such as the perceived economic consequences of
the vote mattered more to fearful voters, while angry voters decided more on the basis of
‘second-order’ concerns such as partisanship or government performance.
Our argument builds directly on Garry (2014) and extends his argument by
considering the direct and moderating impact of emotional reactions on preferences towards
European integration. We expect emotions and affect to be ‘both a motivational component
underlying information processing strategies and a direct source of information that
individuals consult in making social judgments’ (Erişen, 2013: 117). Emotions concerning the
EU are likely to be influential at three stages of opinion formation: as a direct source of
opinions, as a moderator of cognitive considerations and as a moderator of information-
seeking strategies. First, emotional reactions exert a distinct direct influence on support for
integration because different emotional reactions influence how individuals deal with
perceived threats (Druckman and McDermott, 2008). We argue that those who experience
anger should be the most likely to want to leave the EU. In contrast, fearful voters should be
those who most want to renegotiate their country’s relationship with the EU. Enthusiastic
citizens should unsurprisingly be least in favour of either option since continued membership
on current terms will be attractive. Second, emotional reactions affect how individuals use
other considerations to form opinions on EU integration (e.g. Garry, 2014; Valentino et al.,
2011). We posit that instrumental considerations are more directly related to support for EU
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membership for fearful citizens, while underlying affect towards the EU is more important for
those experiencing anger. Finally, emotional reactions also influence how individuals seek out
and process information (e.g. Brader et al., 2008; Valentino et al., 2008; Merolla and
Zechmeister, 2009). Because angry voters tend to be less active in finding and considering
information, we suggest that they will have less varied and nuanced opinions regarding
European integration than fearful voters.
Using evidence from an online survey conducted in the UK in April 2015 (n=3.000),
our study has a three-fold contribution. First, we put forward an overall theoretical model of
how emotional reactions affect public preferences on the EU, showing that emotions are
important to understanding three distinct stages of opinion formation. In proposing this
model, we offer an entirely new perspective by considering how emotional reactions affect
the extent to which opinions on EU integration are varied and nuanced. Second, we examine
general preferences concerning a member state’s relationship with the EU rather than voting
decisions in a referendum. By incorporating emotionality into our empirical analysis we
demonstrate that discrete emotional reactions have divergent effects on people’s preferences
towards European integration. Finally, we also examine the distinct effects of enthusiasm,
showing that its impact is more similar to that of anger than to that of fear. Our findings are
robust because our data allow us to incorporate and control for the major explanations in the
literature. In sum, we provide an important complement to existing work explaining support
for EU integration (Hobolt and de Vries, 2016), and contend that future work explaining
preferences over EU integration should integrate emotional reactions.
Emotional reactions and opinions about European integration
Early research into emotional reactions either used one simple positive-negative dimension or
a two-dimensional valence model (Marcus, 2003; Marcus et al., 2000). More recently,
researchers have argued that distinct emotions may characterise individuals’ reactions (e.g.
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Huddy et al., 2007; Larsen and McGraw, 2011; Petersen, 2010; Smith et al., 2008; Valentino
et al. 2008, 2011; Weber, 2012; see also Conover and Feldman, 1986). Appraisal theories of
emotions suggest that various distinct emotions arise due to individuals’ cognitive
interpretation of the situation they experience (e.g. Roseman, 1991; Smith and Ellsworth,
1985; for a review, see Brader and Marcus, 2013). Neuroscientific theories based on the
neural processes that generate emotional responses have also increasingly turned towards a
three-dimensional model of emotions that distinguishes between fear, anger and enthusiasm
(Brader and Marcus, 2013; Lerner and Keltner, 2001). Research in political psychology
building on both appraisal and neural process theories has therefore focused in particular on
the causes and consequences of anger, fear1 and enthusiasm as distinct emotions (Carver and
Harmon-Jones, 2009; Conover and Feldman, 1986; Huddy et al., 2005, 2007; Lerner and
Keltner, 2000, 2001; Petersen, 2010; Smith and Ellsworth, 1985; Valentino et al., 2011).
Applied to political phenomena, distinct emotions cause different types of actions and
attitudes: fear leads to caution and openness and anger to more confident and aggressive
responses (Druckman and McDermott, 2008; MacKuen et al., 2010). For instance, whereas
fear and anger both tend to increase intolerance and threat perceptions (e.g. Erisen and
Kentmen-Cin, 2017), they lead to distinct ways of reacting to terrorist threats (Lerner et al.,
2003). Fearful citizens are more wary of the increased risk and turn to isolationism, while
angry citizens are less risk-averse and tend to favour pro-active intervention (Huddy et al.,
2007). Anxious citizens are also more likely to seek out new information and process this
carefully (Brader et al., 2008; Marcus et al., 2000; Merolla and Valentino et al., 2008;
Zechmeister, 2009). Finally, enthusiasm increases the willingness to participate in politics, but
like anger it also increases less careful forms of information-processing (Brader, 2006;
Marcus et al., 2000).
The process of European integration is likely to elicit distinct emotional responses
from citizens. The EU is a complex institutional framework that has expanded its
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jurisdictional authority over a number of key policy areas. In terms of the negative emotions
elicited by the EU, we might consider aspects such as beliefs about the negative impact of the
EU, perceptions of one’s influence over political decisions and assumptions about the
motivations of EU actors. For some citizens, transposing sovereignty to the EU may therefore
be perceived as a threat to domestic economic stability, cultural homogeneity, and national
identity and sovereignty. For other individuals, the EU may inspire enthusiasm by appealing
to common identities, solidarity and belonging as well as projects associated with economic
prosperity. Those who view the EU with enthusiasm may associate it with positive past
experiences as well as a feeling of future positive impact, coupled with perceptions of
influence and control over those circumstances.
We suggest that these emotional reactions can subsequently influence support for
European integration at three stages of the opinion formation process. First, emotional
reactions can have a direct influence on attitudes towards EU membership; second, emotional
reactions can affect the impact of other evaluations of the EU on opinions and attitudes about
integration; and finally, emotional reactions can influence how individuals seek out and
process information about the EU (Figure 1).
Figure 1 about here
Our first set of hypotheses concerns how emotional reactions directly affect support
for EU integration, so whether and how individuals want to re-order their country’s
relationship with the EU.2 Angry citizens should be more in favour of cutting ties with the
EU. This is because angry individuals are more confrontational and less risk-averse. Anger
leads to more confident and aggressive responses to a given threat that are meant to remove it
completely (Druckman & McDermott, 2008). In contrast, anxious citizens are more open to
compromise than angry individuals (Huddy et al., 2005; MacKuen et al., 2010). Anxious
citizens also tend to perceive higher levels of risk, coupled with a greater sense of uncertainty
and lack of control (Huddy et al., 2005). Hence, they are also generally more risk-averse,
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preferring caution over radicalism. Anxious citizens should therefore be more likely to
support re-negotiation of their country’s relationship with the EU. Finally, while enthusiasm
is generally linked to political interest and mobilisation (Marcus et al., 2000), its status as a
positive emotion means that these citizens should not want to leave the EU or renegotiate the
terms of membership. Our first three hypotheses are thus:
H1: Anxious citizens are more likely to favour renegotiation than angry citizens (1a), and
angry citizens are more likely to favour leaving the EU than anxious citizens (1b), while
enthusiastic citizens are less likely to favour renegotiation or leaving the EU than anxious or
angry citizens (1c).
Our second set of hypotheses concerns the effect of emotional reactions on how
individuals use broader evaluations of the EU to form their opinion about European
integration. Anger and enthusiasm lead citizens to take detailed and balanced information less
into account: their opinions are formed more heuristically (Garry, 2014; MacKuen et al.,
2010). In contrast, anxious individuals are less likely to rely on habitual responses and more
likely to form their judgements based on careful consultation of the available information
(Garry, 2014; MacKuen et al., 2010; Valentino et al., 2009). The surveillance system
activated by anxiety leads citizens to ‘stop and seek [relevant] information’ (Merolla and
Zechmeister, 2009). As such, the opinions of fearful citizens should be based more on
effortful information-processing.
If different emotions lead to different kinds of information-seeking and information-
processing on European issues, then the resulting EU attitudes should also vary in their
relationship with utilitarian concerns and affective evaluations. The EU stances of fearful
citizens should be more strongly linked to cost-benefit analyses of the EU. We know that
utilitarianism in the form of perceived costs and benefits of European integration provides a
robust explanation of people’s EU attitudes, with those who perceive that integration benefits
themselves and/or their country more likely to support the EU (e.g. Gabel, 1998; Gabel and
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Whitten, 1997). In contrast, angry and enthusiastic citizens may base their stance less on their
perceptions of the costs and benefits of the EU. Such citizens should base their overall
opinions more on affect-based evaluations of the EU (Garry, 2014; MacKuen et al., 2010).
When asked about their opinion regarding political matters, angry and enthusiastic individuals
tend to rely on heuristics based on their overall views (Brader and Marcus, 2013: 185).
H2: The attitudes of angry and enthusiastic citizens towards the EU are less conditional on
utilitarian considerations concerning EU integration than those of anxious citizens (2a), and
the attitudes of angry and enthusiastic citizens towards the EU are more conditional on affect-
based considerations concerning EU integration than those of anxious citizens (2b).
Finally, emotional reactions may affect how individual seek out and process
information. On the one hand, anger and enthusiasm lead individuals to have stronger
opinions and to be less open in their search for more information. There is evidence that anger
in particular leads individuals to seek out less information and to look for sources that tend to
confirm their pre-existing opinions (MacKuen et al., 2007, Valentino et al., 2008, 2009). In
contrast, anxiety and fear lead individuals to engage in more careful information-seeking
behaviour (Brader et al., 2008; Huddy et al. 2007; Marcus et al., 2000, Valentino et al., 2008).
This is because this emotion leads individuals to be more deliberate and open in forming
opinions. Applied to the EU, this would mean that angry citizens focus more on negative
news and spend less time searching for information than anxious citizens; in contrast,
enthusiastic citizens will focus on positive news, but will also work less hard at integrating
challenging information.
We do not test directly how emotions moderate information-seeking and information-
processing. Instead, we take advantage of the empirical consequences that should be
observable if emotions moderate citizens’ cognitive behaviour. We argue that the impact of
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emotions on information-seeking influences how nuanced and differentiated citizen opinions
are. The EU is a complex institutional arrangement that covers a wide array of different policy
areas. It is reasonable to support EU integration in some areas more than in others. However,
emotions will affect the extent to which individuals want, look for and process information
about the EU. If anger or enthusiasm lead to less information-seeking relevant to integration,
citizens associating the EU with those emotions will have more uniform opinions about EU
integration across policy areas. In contrast, anxiety is likely to lead individuals to seek out
more information, which should also lead fearful individuals to be less uniform in their
support or opposition across policy areas. Of course, some anxious voters will still develop
uniform views on the EU, but their tendency to seek out more information should on average
counteract these tendencies, at least compared to angry and enthusiastic voters.
H3: Angry and enthusiastic citizens’ opinion on European integration is likely to be more
uniform across policy areas than that of anxious citizens.
Data and methods
We rely on data collected from a large-n cross-sectional online survey (n=3000) conducted in
the UK in April 2015, about 14 months before the Brexit referendum. The UK provides an
ideal environment to test the effect of emotional reactions on public preferences towards
European integration as the debate in light of the Brexit referendum increased the
politicisation of the EU, defined as ‘higher levels of salience, polarisation of opinion and the
expansion of actors and audiences involved in EU issues’ (De Wilde et al., 2016: 3).
ResearchNow recruited our participants using online panels of approximately 500000
respondents from a wide variety of Internet sites to avoid the bias associated with limited
source recruitment. Our survey is representative of the British population in terms of gender,
age and region (see Online appendix). Online surveys tend not to be fully representative of
populations in terms of education and income; however, in-person and online survey data tend
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to yield similar results both in terms of estimating parameters and the overall explanatory
power of competing models (e.g. Sanders et al., 2007), so we consider this to be a limited
problem for our analysis. We control for education and income in our models, also accounting
for the fact that the less-educated and less well-off citizens voted in favour of Brexit (Hobolt,
2016).
Measures of EU support
Our analyses use two questions that measure different aspects of opinion about the EU. First,
we capture an individual’s willingness to renegotiate EU membership based on answers to the
agree-disagree statement ‘The UK should renegotiate the terms of its EU membership’.
Second, we examine an individual’s opinion on whether the UK should leave the EU based on
the agree-disagree statement ‘Irrespective of renegotiation, the UK should leave the EU’.
Answers to both questions were measured on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1
(‘strongly disagree’) to 7 (‘strongly agree’). The points in between were labelled: ‘disagree’,
‘slightly disagree’, ‘neither agree nor disagree’, ‘slightly agree’ and ‘agree’. While the
majority of respondents wish to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s EU membership, opinion is
much more varied when it comes to leaving the EU (Figure 2).
[Figure 2 about here]
To measure the degree of attitude uniformity across EU policies, we asked
respondents a series of questions to capture how much authority they think the EU should
have in 19 policy areas. Specifically, we asked ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree that
the EU should have more authority over the EU Member States in the following policy
areas’.3 Agreement was again measured on seven-point scales. To assess attitude uniformity
we calculated the standard deviation of each individual’s responses across these 19 policy
areas.
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Measures of emotional reactions
Our survey asked: ‘Which, if any, of the following words describe your feelings about
Britain’s membership of the EU (choose up to four words).’ As in the British Election Study
(e.g. Whiteley et al., 2014), respondents could choose a maximum of four emotions from a list
of nine: angry, disgusted, uneasy, afraid, happy, hopeful, confident, proud and indifferent.
The most prominent reaction to Britain’s membership of the EU is ‘uneasy’ at 49.3 per cent
followed by ‘hopeful’ at 25.3 per cent. The least chosen emotion is ‘proud’, at 7.4 per cent
(Figure 3). About a quarter of respondents say that they feel ‘indifferent’ about Britain’s EU
membership.
[Figure 3 about here]
We combine these emotions into four groups (Figure 3).4 We categorised individuals
as afraid if they ticked either uneasy or afraid or both (Wagner 2014) and as angry if they
ticked either angry or disgusted or both.5 Individuals are categorised as enthusiastic if they
choose ‘happy’, ‘hopeful’, ‘confident’ or ‘proud’ (Marcus and Mackuen, 1993). While these
terms may seem to tap into different emotions, they tend to be very similar in terms of their
consequences (Brader and Marcus 2013: 175). We measure indifference as those people who
ticked that box; most people who are indifferent chose no other emotions.
The design of the survey question means that respondents can state that they have
different feelings at the same time, e.g. anger and fear. This is implied by and consistent with
current approaches to studying emotions (Carver and Harmon-Jones 2009: 197; Tellegen et al.
1999). In our survey, 36 per cent reported feeling fear and not anger, 6 per cent reported
feeling anger but not fear, and 16 per cent reported anger and fear.6
In addition to examining the direct impact of these emotions (H1a-H1c), we also aim
to test whether the presence of certain emotions moderates the impact of other attitudes on
preferences concerning European integration. First, we hypothesised that the effect of cost-
benefit considerations varies by emotional reaction (H2a). To test this, we interact our
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emotion indicators with a variable measuring the perceived costs and benefits of membership.
This is assessed using answers to the agree-disagree statement ‘Britain has greatly benefited
from being a member of the EU’; higher levels of this seven-point variable indicate lower
perceived benefits.7
Second, we suggested that the effect of the general underlying stance towards the EU
also differs by emotional state (H2b). To test this, we interact our emotion indicators with a
variable measuring overall support for the EU; this is measured by extracting the first
component of a principal components analysis of three items: first, how much integration the
respondent would like to see, measured on a 0-10 scale where 0 means ‘the integration of
Europe has already gone too far’ and 10 that ‘European integration should be pushed further’;
second, trust in EU institutions, measured on a 0-10 scale where 0 means ‘do not trust at all’
and 10 means ‘trust completely’; and, third, satisfaction with democracy in the EU, measured
on a 0-10 scale where 0 means ‘completely dissatisfied’ and 10 means ‘completely satisfied’.
This variable captures a respondent’s overall positive or negative evaluation of the EU.
Control variables
To assess the effects of emotions, our models have to include important confounders.
Emotional reactions towards the EU may be caused by characteristics and attitudes that also
predict attitudes towards the EU. For instance, an individual who opposes immigration may
be more likely to be both angry at Britain’s EU membership and more likely to support
Britain leaving the EU, without anger having a direct effect on the outcome variable at all.
First, partisanship and party cues are pivotal in structuring people’s EU attitudes (e.g.
Steenbergen et al., 2007) but also influence emotions (Ladd and Lenz, 2008). We include
variables for party sympathy for Conservatives, UKIP, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens
and any other party. Respondents were asked to assess, on a scale of 0-10: ‘How likely is it
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that you would ever vote for this party?’. This is known as the propensity-to-vote question;
results do not differ if we use a standard party identification question instead.
Another potential concern is that our emotions measures are proxies for attitudes
concerning EU integration. We therefore include those attitudes in our models to account for
these confounders. We control for the items that make up our EU opinion scale used to test
H2, i.e. how much integration the respondent would like to see, trust in national and EU
institutions (e.g. see Anderson, 1998; Armingeon and Ceka, 2014); and a respondent’s
satisfaction with democracy in the EU. We also include a measure of European identity in our
models, with higher values indicating strong feelings of European identity (e.g. Carey, 2002;
McLaren, 2002).
Our controls also comprise variables related to the utilitarian approach to European
integration (e.g. Gabel, 1998; Gabel and Whitten, 1997; Gomez, 2015). These include
questions that capture an individual’s personal economic evaluation and her assessment of the
country’s economic situation. These are measured from 1 to 5, with lower values indicating
improvement compared to 12 months ago. We control for the respondent’s attribution of
responsibility to the EU for her country’s economic situation, measured on a scale from 0 to
10, with higher values indicating full attribution of responsibility to the EU. Next, we know
that cognitive mobilisation influences an individual’s view of European integration (Inglehart,
1970), so we control for education levels. This four-point variable, with 1 ‘less than secondary
school exams’, 2 ‘secondary school exams (e.g. GCSEs or equivalent)’, 3 ‘college exams (e.g.
A-Levels, NVQ, or equivalent)’ and 4 ‘university (e.g. Degree, Professional qualifications)’.
We also add controls that relate to ideology (Hooghe and Marks, 2009), including an
individual’s self-placement of the left-right dimension; attitudes on state intervention and
redistribution, with higher values indicating leftist attitudes; attitudes on immigration, with
larger values denoting right-wing attitudes; and attitudes towards addressing climate change,
with higher values indicating a positive stance. Finally, other individual-level controls include
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gender, age, income and the frequency of following current affairs on TV, the internet and in
the newspapers.8
Results
Direct effects on support for EU membership
Table 1 below reports our findings from three models using ordinary least squares (OLS)
regression to predict attitudes towards renegotiation (Model 1) and leaving the EU (Models 2
and 3). First, we test whether anxious citizens are more likely to favour renegotiation than
angry citizens. We expect this because anxious and fearful citizens tend to be more risk-
averse and more willing to accept compromise compared to angry citizens who tend to be
much more confrontational. Model 1 supports this hypothesis. In addition to emotional
reactions, Model 1 includes our set of controls, including attitudes towards leaving the EU; it
is necessary to control for this to isolate preferences for renegotiation as distinct from leaving
the EU.
[Table 1 about here]
Model 1 provides evidence that fearful and anxious citizens wish to renegotiate the
terms and conditions of the country’s EU membership, with enthusiastic citizens less likely to
do so. Note that the variables for each emotional reaction can change independently from each
other, as different emotions can co-occur. The effect for anger is not statistically significant; it
is, however, statistically significantly different from the effect of anxiety (p<0.001). The
effects of emotions on preferences over renegotiation are shown in Figure 4, which shows the
predicted level of support for renegotiating EU membership on a 1-7 scale. The Figure shows
that anxious respondents most strongly support renegotiation, followed by angry and
enthusiastic citizens. Perhaps angry and enthusiastic voters are more likely to have already
made their mind up with regard to the UK’s EU membership, so that renegotiation no longer
matters for their decision. Indifferent voters are similar to angry and enthusiastic voters.
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[Figure 4 about here]
This resonates well with our findings in Model 2, where we test our second
hypothesis, i.e. that angry citizens are more likely to favour leaving the EU than anxious
citizens. In Model 2, we see a strong relationship between anger and the wish to
fundamentally change the UK’s constitutional relationship with the EU. Enthusiastic citizens
are less likely to want to leave the EU. Fear has a small but statistically significant positive
effect on wanting to leave the EU compared to enthusiasm; moreover, anxious citizens are
statistically significantly less likely to support leaving than angry citizens. Indifferent voters
are similar to anxious voters.
Our findings related to the relationship between emotions on the one hand and
willingness to renegotiate and preference for leaving the EU on the other are robust. Our
models include a number of variables controlling for the main confounders of the relationship
between emotional reactions and attitudes towards the EU. Party sympathy does not seem to
have a strong effect across the models, with two exceptions: those who support the openly
Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) are more likely to wish to leave the
EU; and those who support the Conservatives are more likely to support renegotiation. Our
variables relating to the EU also have a mixed impact. For example, lower perceived benefits
decrease the willingness to renegotiate and increase support for leaving the EU. The
attribution of responsibility variable is positive and significant across models, i.e. the more an
individual attributes responsibility to the EU for the UK’s economic situation, the more likely
they are to support both renegotiation and withdrawal. Higher EU trust, satisfaction with EU
democracy and support for deeper integration also decrease the desire for renegotiation, but
these variables have a far weaker effect on wanting to the leave the EU. Finally, we find that
there is a relationship between willingness to renegotiate and leaving the EU, i.e. individuals
who want to renegotiate are more likely to wish to leave the EU and vice versa.
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Our results show that higher levels of education mean a voter is more likely to wish to
renegotiate the UK’s EU membership but less likely to wish to leave (see Hobolt 2016).
Among educated voters, a preference for renegotiation does not necessarily lead to a desire
for withdrawal. Subjective perceptions of one’s personal economic situation compared to last
year are associated with a wish to leave the EU, but there is no effect on willingness to
renegotiate. Negative perceptions of the country’s economic situation are related with less
support for renegotiation, but have only a weak positive effect on wish for withdrawal.
Ideological dimensions relating to the economy and immigration are also important, and we
note that the immigration scales in general have a larger impact than the economic scales.
Finally, higher levels of trust in the UK government increase the desire both to renegotiate
and to leave the EU.
Emotions as moderators of cost-benefit and affective considerations
Our second set of hypotheses concerned how emotions moderate the impact of general EU
attitudes and cost-benefit perceptions. To test these hypotheses, we interact cost-benefit
perceptions and overall EU attitudes with our emotion indicators. Figure 5 shows the marginal
effect of each attitude for angry, fearful, enthusiastic and indifferent voters, respectively.9 The
dependent variable is willingness to leave the EU. The top half of the Figure shows the
marginal effect of general EU attitudes depending on emotional reactions, while the bottom
half shows the marginal effect of cost-benefit perceptions. In order to read Figure 5 correctly,
note that, unlike in Figure 4, the x-axis is the predicted marginal effect of cost-benefit
perceptions and general attitudes; in Figure 4, the x-axis is the predicted level of the
dependant variable.
Turning first to cost-benefit perceptions (bottom half of Figure 5), we can see that the
marginal effect of this variable is clearly larger for anxious than for angry or enthusiastic
voters. While cost-benefit perceptions are important for voters with all emotional reactions,
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the effect is about twice as large for anxious than for angry or enthusiastic individuals.
Indifferent voters are between anxious voters on the one hand and angry or enthusiastic voters
on the other. Overall, H2a is confirmed.
The top half of Figure 5 shows that the effect of general EU evaluations is negative for
angry individuals, who are the only group for whom the marginal effect is statistically
significantly smaller than 0. Enthusiasm appears to increase the positive effect of general EU
attitudes. The moderating effect of enthusiasm also statistically differs from that of anxiety
(F=6.09, p=0.01), which itself is only slightly positive and far from statistical significance.
Finally, there is no clear moderating effect of indifference. We can confirm H2b: overall, it
seems that angry and enthusiastic individuals are indeed more likely to rely on heuristic
decision-making and therefore on general EU opinions, while anxious citizens base their
decisions more on cost-benefit considerations.
[Figure 5 about here]
Effects on information-seeking
To test the third hypothesis, we present indicative evidence that fear and anger differ in their
effects on information-seeking and opinion formation. In Table 2, Model 1 predicts the
standard deviation of opinions concerning integration in nineteen policy areas. We include our
controls differently in this model: we control for the extremity of opinion, since those with
extreme opinions should have lower variation in opinions about EU policy areas. Turning to
the results, we can see that fearful citizens have a higher variation in opinions than angry
citizens, confirming H3, i.e. that fearful citizens are less uniform across policy areas. The
effects of anger and fear are statistically significantly different (F=30.5, p<0.001). This is in
line with literature that suggests that angry citizens tend to rely on heuristics based on their
overall views and as such seek less information.
[Table 2 about here]
!
18!
However, we also partly disconfirm H3 in that we find that enthusiasm is associated
with increased variation in opinion, and its impact is in fact similar to that of fear. Hence,
while angry citizens have by far the most uniform views, enthusiasm and fear are both
associated with less heterogeneous opinions. Perhaps the increased interest in and affect
towards the EU implied by enthusiasm are just as important for information-seeking as
enthusiasm’s tendency to limit careful information-processing. Overall, it seems that anger
most clearly leads to a lack of careful information-seeking and more uniform opinion across
different EU policy areas.
Discussion
In this article, we have put forward and tested a theoretical framework of how emotional
reactions affect public preferences on the EU at three stages of opinion formation. First, fear
increases citizens’ desire to renegotiate their country’s constitutional relationship with the EU,
while anger increases their willingness to leave the EU. Second, the attitudes of angry and
enthusiastic citizens towards the EU are less conditional on the perceived benefits of EU
integration than those of anxious citizens. Moreover, angry voters’ stances on EU
membership are related more to underlying attitudes towards the EU than among fearful and
enthusiastic voters. Finally, indicative evidence shows that angry citizens tend to express less
nuanced and varied views on specific polices related to the EU; we suggested that this is due
to differences in information-seeking and information-processing.
Our findings are significant as the EU is currently highly contested across EU member
states. The continued inability of the EU to resolve the economic and refugee crises may have
contributed to feelings of anger and fear among EU citizens, and these feelings have also been
strategically exploited by populist politicians. In order to explain support or opposition to the
EU, we need to consider how these emotional considerations may affect public opinion and
behaviour. Doing so may help us go some way toward understanding the increasing success
!
19!
of Eurosceptic parties in the 2014 European Parliament elections as well as the UK’s decision
to leave the EU.
Our research also has implications for the persuasiveness and effectiveness of EU-
related campaigns. Campaigns that elicit anger are more likely to solidify existing Eurosceptic
attitudes, whereas pro-EU groups that create enthusiasm will mobilise citizens in favour of
European integration. However, when discussions about the EU elicit anxiety, citizens are
more likely to have nuanced positions on specific EU policies and base their EU opinion on
cost-benefit considerations. A campaign that encourages fear and anxiety may mean that
voters pay closer attention to the debate and decide more cautiously, so both sides will have to
marshal good and convincing evidence for their position.
Our analysis also sheds light on the Brexit referendum. The two official campaigns
‘Britain Stronger In Europe’ and ‘Vote Leave’ set the agenda by transforming the debate into
a battle between two issues: economy versus immigration (Hobolt, 2016). Whereas the
rhetoric was negative in both camps, being referred to as ‘Project Fear’ and ‘Project Hate’
respectively by the other side, they each elicited different negative emotions. On the one hand,
Britain Stronger In framed its campaign in terms of risk and risk avoidance. Its posters
included phrases such as ‘Leave Europe and we will lose our seat at the table’, ‘Leave and
there is no going back’ and ‘Leaving Europe would be a leap in the dark’. On the other hand,
Vote Leave messages such as ‘Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU’ and ‘Let’s
give our NHS the £350 billon the EU takes every week’ elicited anger, driven by a sense of
collective threat. Anger was further aroused through the portrayal of the EU as an illegitimate
source of this threat. Therefore, by evoking feelings of anxiety, the Remain camp sought to
persuade voters to maintain the status quo (as the less risky option), whereas by eliciting
anger, the Vote Leave camp enabled more risk-taking behaviours. Interestingly, neither
campaign tried hard to evoke positive emotions.
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20!
A factor relevant for future research is the effect of these emotions on turnout. Fear
and anxiety tend to be associated with avoidance strategies in order to minimise the
experienced threat whereas anger may transform a stimulus into a reaction (Halperin &
Pilskin, 2015). Enthusiasm tends to be linked to political interest and mobilisation (Brader and
Marcus, 2013). It is plausible that anxiety is not a good motivator to turn out, whereas anger
and enthusiasm may induce citizens to vote (Brader, 2006; Valentino et al., 2011). Future
research should therefore examine whether citizens who expressed fear about EU membership
were less likely to go to the ballot box as opposed to angry or enthusiastic citizens. If this is
empirically verified, then the Vote Leave campaign not only persuaded citizens in terms of its
argument but also might have encouraged people to participate in the vote. Put differently, if
the Remain campaign had managed to create more enthusiasm about the EU, it might have
more strongly mobilised UK citizens.
Future research should also take a comparative perspective. Our theoretical predictions
apply to the UK, and similar arguments have been tested in Ireland (Garry, 2014). In both
cases, the EU issue is relatively salient due to the success of UKIP (Britain) and frequent
referendums (Ireland). However, we still do not know whether emotions affect public opinion
on the EU where Euroscepticism is low, e.g. in Spain and Portugal, or in newer member states
such as in Central and Eastern Europe. Overall, research that takes into account individuals’
emotions on the EU promises to improve our understanding of how and when people support
and oppose European integration.
Funding
This article draws upon research funded by an ESRC Future Leaders grant, ES/N001826/1.
Acknowledgements
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21!
We are grateful to the journal's referees for comments.
Notes
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1. In line with other studies (e.g. Valentino et al. 2008), we use the term fear and anxiety
interchangeably.
2. For an argument on emotions and EU support based on a two-dimensional valence
conception of emotions, see Erişen and Kentmen-Cin (2015).
3. The nineteen policy areas are: agriculture and food, asylum seekers, competition and
business regulation, defence policy, digital security and data protection, education,
employment and social affairs, energy, environment and climate change, foreign and security
policy, health, justice, fundamental rights and equality, labour market, monetary policy,
overseas aid / development policy, sustainable development, taxation, trade and transport.
4. We do not conduct measurement tests on our coding of emotions. Doing so is difficult
because some respondents may check only ‘angry’ or ‘disgusted’ without being necessarily
less angry than those who select both emotions. In addition, it is quite common for people to
feel several emotions at the same time, so the co-occurrence of emotions does not mean that
they are the same phenomenon. The validity of our measures should instead be assessed by
their differential effects on attitudes and behavior.
5. While treating ‘disgust’ as an indicator for anger is a common approach (Conover and
Feldman, 1986; MacKuen et al., 2010; Valentino et al., 2011), some research argues that these
two emotions are distinct (Hutcherson and Gross, 2011).
6. Only one per cent of respondents reported feeling both enthusiasm and anger; 7 per cent
reported feeling both fear and enthusiasm. In our analysis, we always includes all four sets of
emotions, so we control for the effects of the other emotions when examining the impact of
one emotion. In robustness checks (see the Online appendix), we included interactions
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22!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
between fear and anger in order to check whether voters who are only angry differ from those
who are angry and afraid. No substantively relevant differences were found.
7. This wording does not ask directly about the costs of membership. We assume that those
who perceive high costs see low benefits and would give low scores on the seven-point
variable.
8. Our models include a large set of control variables. Robustness checks (see the Online
appendix) indicate that models controlling just for gender, age, education and income produce
substantively the same results, although effect estimates are naturally larger in the simpler
models. Our models are likely to be conservative estimates of the effects of emotional
reactions to the EU. For information on descriptive statistics, see Online appendix.
9. We set other emotions to 0 if another emotion is treated as present (i.e. 1). All other
variables are held at their observed values.
!
23!
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Figure 1. Emotional reactions and opinion formation on EU integration
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!
!
!
!
! !
!
30!
!
!
Figure 2. Attitudes towards renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s EU membership.
Source: Data from original survey of 3000 respondents conducted in the period 23/04/2015-
05/05/2015.
! !
!
31!
!
Figure 3. Emotional reactions to Britain's membership of the EU, raw and recoded.
Source: Data from original survey of 3000 respondents conducted in the period 23/04/2015-
05/05/2015.
! !
!
32!
!
Figure 4. Direct effect of emotional reactions on support for EU integration
Note: Scales of outcomes variables range from 1 to 7, with 1 labelled as ‘strongly disagree’ and 7 as
‘strongly agree’. Predicted levels of the outcome variable calculated by varying emotional reactions
while holding all other variables at their observed levels.
!
!
33!
Figure 5. Emotions as a moderator of other considerations.
Note: Graph shows the marginal effect of cost-benefit perceptions and general EU attitudes for three
groups of voters, based on whether they declared feeling enthusiastic, angry and anxious. The
dependant variable is the individual’s position on leaving the EU, measured on a 1-7 scale. Bars show
95% confidence intervals. Marginal effects and confidence intervals calculated based on our results
from model 3, Table 1.
!
!
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Table 1. The impact of emotional reactions on attitudes towards renegotiation and preferences for the
UK’s constitutional relationship with the EU.
Model 1
Model 2
Model 3
DV: Renegotiate
EU membership
DV: Leave EU
DV: Leave EU
0.342***
(0.067)
-0.0438
(0.062)
-0.148
(0.184)
-0.0322
(0.082)
0.749***
(0.074)
1.502***
(0.261)
-0.0518
(0.078)
-0.378***
(0.072)
0.261
(0.213)
-0.0301
(0.069)
-0.118
(0.063)
0.155
(0.211)
-0.0797**
(0.028)
0.427***
(0.024)
0.508***
(0.049)
0.0370
(0.042)
-0.178***
(0.052)
-0.211***
(0.053)
-0.0393
(0.048)
-0.0227
(0.058)
0.0520
(0.049)
-0.110
(0.057)
0.186***
(0.056)
-0.0558
(0.055)
0.194***
(0.021)
0.165***
(0.018)
0.166***
(0.018)
-0.0804***
-0.0255
!
35!
(0.019)
(0.017)
-0.0739***
(0.014)
0.00600
(0.013)
-0.0394**
(0.015)
0.0286*
(0.014)
0.0428***
(0.010)
0.000403
(0.009)
0.00198
(0.009)
0.00808
(0.009)
0.000240
(0.008)
-0.00263
(0.008)
-0.00836
(0.011)
-0.0123
(0.010)
-0.0112
(0.010)
-0.0119
(0.010)
0.110***
(0.009)
0.107***
(0.009)
-0.000702
(0.012)
0.0115
(0.011)
0.0102
(0.011)
0.0135
(0.010)
0.0263**
(0.009)
0.0238**
(0.009)
0.0323
(0.033)
-0.0815**
(0.031)
-0.0749*
(0.030)
-0.0994**
(0.036)
0.0597
(0.033)
0.0552
(0.033)
0.0434***
(0.012)
0.0387***
(0.011)
0.0410***
(0.011)
-0.0344
(0.019)
-0.00403
(0.017)
-0.0134
(0.017)
0.0394
(0.023)
-0.0421*
(0.021)
-0.0481*
(0.021)
-0.00449
(0.020)
0.0970***
(0.018)
0.0948***
(0.018)
0.132***
(0.022)
0.0885***
(0.020)
0.0892***
(0.020)
-0.0362
(0.018)
0.0653***
(0.017)
0.0625***
(0.017)
-0.0116
(0.019)
0.0121
(0.017)
0.00946
(0.017)
0.0606***
(0.015)
0.0562***
(0.014)
0.0453***
(0.013)
0.124*
-0.151**
-0.159**
!
36!
(0.056)
(0.051)
(0.051)
0.00376
(0.002)
-0.00930***
(0.002)
-0.00964***
(0.002)
0.0624
(0.034)
-0.0907**
(0.031)
-0.0997**
(0.031)
-0.0693**
(0.022)
0.103***
(0.021)
0.103***
(0.020)
-0.00890
(0.018)
0.0467**
(0.017)
0.0508**
(0.017)
0.0285
(0.016)
-0.0575***
(0.015)
-0.0566***
(0.015)
0.0159
(0.011)
-0.0180
(0.010)
-0.0189
(0.010)
-0.0159
(0.048)
-0.0669
(0.044)
-0.0386
(0.044)
0.00258
(0.004)
0.00892*
(0.004)
0.00621
(0.004)
3.824***
(0.355)
0.275
(0.334)
-0.00604
(0.368)
2608
2608
2608
0.309
0.624
0.633
Note: Standard errors in parentheses, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001
!
!
37!
Table 2. The effect of emotional reactions on opinion uniformity across policy areas
DV: Standard deviation in
integration preferences
Fear (0/1)
0.0944***
(0.027)
Anger (0/1)
-0.138***
(0.032)
Enthusiasm (0/1)
0.145***
(0.030)
Indifference (0/1)
0.0790**
(0.028)
Leave EU: extremism (0-3)
0.0468***
(0.012)
Renegotiate EU membership: extremism (0-3)
0.0506***
(0.012)
Male
0.0498*
(0.022)
Age
0.00306***
(0.001)
Education (1-4)
0.0354**
(0.014)
TV viewing (1-6)
-0.0202*
(0.009)
Internet use (1-6)
-0.0113
(0.007)
Newspaper use (1-6)
0.00385
(0.007)
Income (1-14)
0.00127
(0.004)
Left-Right extremism (0-5)
-0.0156*
(0.008)
PTV extremism: Conservative (0-5)
-0.00153
(0.007)
PTV extremism: Labour party (0-5)
-0.0152*
(0.008)
PTV extremism: Liberal Democrat party (0-5)
-0.00462
(0.007)
PTV extremism: UKIP party (0-5)
0.0166*
(0.007)
PTV extremism: Green party (0-5)
-0.0165*
(0.008)
PTV extremism: Other party (0-5)
0.0208*
(0.008)
Personal economic situation: extremism (0-2)
0.0244
(0.017)
General economic situation: extremism (0-2)
0.0459*
(0.018)
EU: responsibility for economic situation: extremism (0-5)
-0.00391
(0.008)
Costs vs. benefits: extremism (0-3)
-0.0273*
(0.014)
Economic ideology: For state intervention: extremism (0-3)
0.0686***
(0.013)
!
38!
Economic ideology: For redistribution: extremism (0-3)
0.00697
(0.012)
Immigration: Restrictive policy: extremism (0-3)
0.0198
(0.012)
Immigration: Against diversity: extremism (0-3)
0.0172
(0.011)
Environment: Combat climate change: extremism (0-3)
-0.00123
(0.012)
Satisfaction with democracy in EU: extremism (0-5)
-0.0256**
(0.008)
European identity: extremism (0-3)
-0.0113
(0.012)
Trust in EU: extremism (0-5)
-0.00600
(0.009)
Trust in UK government: extremism (0-5)
0.0122
(0.008)
Constant
0.260**
(0.085)
Observations
2608
R2
0.124
Note: Standard errors in parentheses, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001
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... And, further, that much of what has been attributed to heightened fear is actually driven by heightened anger (Vasilopoulou & Wagner, 2017;Wagner & Morisi, 2020;Vasilopoulos et al., 2019;Marcus et al., 2019;Lambert et al., 2019). ...
... There is an immediate challenge facing researchers, editors, and reviewers. The failure to account for multiple concurrent affective appraisals has been shown to produce biased results and mis-attributions as to consequences of heightened fear (Vasilopoulou & Wagner, 2017;Vasilopoulos et al., 2018;Marcus et al., 2019;Lambert et al., 2019). Moreover, studies that rely on manipulation checks that fail to show that treatment effects are specific to the affective evaluation of interest, are likely similarly vulnerable. ...
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Emotion has become an increasing influential area of research in psychology, political psychology, political science and other social sciences. Normally research is driven by theory. As such it is worth considering how well the current emotion research programs meet the requirements of a full blown theory. Among these, in alphabetical order, are: appraisal theories; emotion regulation; and, valence based accounts. After a brief overview of what elements individually and collective constitute a theory of emotion, I evaluate each as to the plausible claim of being a theory of emotion. I find that the worthy ambition to develop a full theory of emotion awaits fulfillment.
... In particular, the latter two emotional states emerge as a response to threat . Both aversion (anger and disgust) and fear are neural correlates to different regions of the brain and are activated as responses to distinct kinds of threats Vasilopoulou and Wagner, 2017;Wagner, 2014). While disgust and anger signal that a threat is harmful to familiar norms and thought practices, anxiety (fear) signifies the extent to which the threat is novel or uncertain. ...
... The belief that others cause harm or regulate the sources of a harmful event or threat is a principal component of anger (Steenbergen and Ellis, 2016). This means that anger rather than fear may be the consequence of situations where individuals are frustrated about an actor who should be concerned more about the welfare of the individual (Vasilopoulou and Wagner, 2017;Wagner, 2014). Put differently: 'Anger serves to launch defenses against challenges to extant core norms by those who threaten' (Marcus et al., 2019: 119). ...
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While analysis of the impact of threatening events has moved from bit player to center stage in political science in recent decades, the phenomenon of pandemic threat is widely neglected in terms of a systematic research agenda. Tying together insights from the behavioral immune system hypothesis and standard political science models of emotional processing, we evaluate whether exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic threat is related to authoritarian attitudes and which emotions do the work. Using 12 samples with over 12,000 respondents from six European countries at two time points (2020 and 2021), we argue that pandemic threats can generate disgust, anger, and fear. Our analyses indicate that exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic threat particularly activates fear, which in turn is linked to authoritarian attitudes.
... Indeed, anxious citizens rely stronger on issue preferences when voting and are more supportive of EU policies, especially concerning the defence against common enemies, as in the case of terrorism. Angry citizens, on the other hand, are more likely to blame the EU for issues such as immigration, to take riskier and less informed voting decisions, and to have voted for Brexit (Erisen, Vasilopoulou, and Kentmen-Cin 2020;Garry 2014;Vasilopoulou and Wagner 2017). An additional contribution originated from discursive approaches, which broadened the emotional economy of European integration. ...
... The long-standing focus on fear as the marker of threat (Hobbes, 1968;Jost & Napier, 2012) now becomes more complex as fear is but one vital appraisal used to identify threat. Research prompted by the concurrent presence of the anger appraisal has not only identified anger's prominent role in identifying threat but reallocates many of the downstream consequences from fear to anger (Vasilopoulou & Wagner, 2017;Marcus et al., 2019). Pursuing that more complex understanding mandate methods of measuring emotion that can capture the independent dynamic shifting of fear and of anger in threat conditions. ...
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All empirical investigations rely on formative presumptions. Over the past 70 plus years, research on emotion has long been reliant on data collected using subjective responses and by experimental exposure to target stimuli, and increasingly with various brain scanning technologies. During this period neuroscience research greatly contributed to our understanding of how emotions are formed and what functions they perform in the realm of politics and social life more generally. I identify a number consequential presumptions, in some differing combinations, that have been the foundations for commonly used measures of emotion and measurement practices. These presumptions enable research that has generated a considerable empirical literature. But these presumptions have become increasing tenuous as insights produced by neuroscience has slowly been integrated into the measurement of emotion. The measurement of emotion has gradually adopted these new insights. The adjustments and benefits that derive are described in the final section.
... Electoral campaigns are therefore the scenario in which electoral propaganda is developed in the form of different materials (Herrero, 2019). Such political propaganda mixes with elements of informative and persuasive communication, where speeches are written and disseminated with the intention of ideological persuasion (Vasilopoulou, Wagner, 2017), and where suggestion is one of the most important factors. In this sense, suggestion is the main psychological element of propaganda (Schuster, 2020). ...
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This research analyses three fundamental questions to determine how, when and by whom emotions are used in campaign materials (political propaganda). Focusing on the 2019 European elections we carry out a three-phase analysis. Firstly, we check the use of rational content against content that appeals to voters’ emotions. Secondly, we observe which of these emo tions are channelled towards the use of negative strategies and, therefore, identifying who is the object of this attack. And lastly, we determine which party families make the most use of humorous content since this resource is believed to be part of an appeal to voter’s feelings and, therefore, it is essential to know if there are differences between political groups. Considering this analytical strategy, the structure of the work begins with the contextualisation of the 2019 European elections to focus, later, on highlighting the importance of electoral campaigns as a given time when communicative activity intensifies. Once the importance of electoral campaigns has been defined the article analyses how campaign materials, in a general context of political propaganda, are one of the most powerful tools. In this sense, the analytical strategy of political parties’ campaign materials can be said to focus on the use of emotions. Data from the European Elections Monitoring Center (EEMC) has been used not only for theoretical contextualization, but throughout the whole paper.
... For populists, perceived violations of popular sovereignty can lead these citizens to develop grievances. While other negative attitudes, such as distrust (Hooghe and Marien 2012) or dissatisfaction (Miller 1980;Torcal and Montero 2006), have been shown to be correlated with populist attitudes (Demertzis 2006), the most common emotional association is anger (Abramowitz 2018;Vasilopoulou and Wagner 2017;Vasilopoulos, et al. 2018). Anger is an emotion that arises from contexts in which the individual perceives personal harm or the threat of harm to be the result of negligent or intentional behavior of other actors. ...
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Since the 2016 US presidential elections, political commentators and academics have often attributed the rise of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to a general 'populist' wave affecting the country. While the two politicians are often juxtaposed with each other in terms of their alleged 'populism', there are grounds to question this characterisation for Bernie Sanders on the left. While others have articulated their doubts as to the level of populist attitudes in the Sanders movement, in our study, we move in the direction of analysing the political beliefs of Sanders' supporters. With the use of ANES survey data, our regression models demonstrate that while a small cohort of populist voters did support Sanders during the 2016 primary, they were much smaller in size than traditional left-wing groups that exhibited negative correlations with populist attitudes. When compared with other presidential candidates running in the 2016 primaries, the results demonstrate that those with populist attitudes were much more inclined to vote for the Republican candidate Donald Trump than the Bernie Sanders. Finally, when we run regressions on the disaggregated components of our index for populist attitudes, the results only demonstrate positive relationships with certain components of the populist worldview, such as anti-elitism, but not for others. Our results, thus, bring significant contributions to the study of populism in the United States by pointing primarily to a populist revolt from the right and less so on the left.
... Anger is an emotion commonly found in populist supporters. As populists argue that the core democratic foundation of popular sovereignty has been usurped from the people by the establishment, appeals to anger, outrage, and feelings of injustice are primary mechanisms (Laclau, 1977;Laraña et al., 1994) for mobilizing citizens with grievances for political activity such as voting (Rico, Guinjoan, and Anduiza, 2020;Vasilopoulou and Wagner, 2017;Vasilopoulos, et al., 2018) and demonstrations (Anduiza, Guinjoan, and Rico, 2019). Unlike interpersonal distrust and dissatisfaction are feelings that can lead to apathy, anger as an emotion has an activating character due to its "moral" character (Skitka and Bauman, 2008;Skitka, Hanson, and Wisneski, 2017;Van Zomeren, Postmes and Spears, 2008;Goodwin, Jasper, and Polletta, 2009;Van Stekelenburg and Klandermans, 2010), that helps to activate the "latent" stereotypes of citizens (Rico, Guinjoan, and Anduiza, 2017). ...
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La salida del Reino Unido (RU) del bloque de la Unión Europea (UE) ha sido uno de los eventos políticos más turbulentos de esa región en los últimos años. El resultado del referéndum, en el 2016, supuso una fractura importante en uno de los proyectos de integración más exitosos que se han dado a nivel mundial; además, sirvió como campo de batalla, en términos discursivos, donde chocaron diversas visiones respecto a la permanencia del RU en el bloque europeo. Los medios de comunicación participaron activamente en la contienda política a través de representaciones parcializadas de los eventos, disfrazadas de noticias objetivas, que incidieron, de un modo u otro, en la construcción de opinión pública. Este trabajo estudió, a través del Framing Analysis, cómo cuatro medios británicos (Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mirror y Sunday Mirror) encuadraron el debate sobre el Brexit para posicionar una mirada específica del problema. Se pudieron identificar tres grandes estrategias, a favor y en contra de la permanencia, en un total de 60 titulares entre los cuatro periódicos estudiados: el encuadre de la crisis económica, el del intruso y el del proyecto “pánico”.
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The outcome of the British referendum on EU membership sent shockwaves through Europe. While Britain is an outlier when it comes to the strength of Euroscepticism, the anti-immigration and anti-establishment sentiments that produced the referendum outcome are gaining strength across Europe. Analysing campaign and survey data, this article shows that the divide between winners and losers of globalization was a key driver of the vote. Favouring British EU exit, or ‘Brexit’, was particularly common among less educated, poorer and older voters, and those who expressed concerns about immigration and multi-culturalism. While there is no evidence of a short-term contagion effect with similar membership referendums in other countries, the Brexit vote nonetheless poses a serious challenge to the political establishment across Europe.
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Public opinion is increasingly at the heart of both political and scholarly debates on European integration. This essay reviews the large literature on public support for, and opposition to, European integration, focusing on conceptualization, causes and consequences: What is public support for European integration? How can we explain variation in support and Euroskepticism? And, what are the consequences of public support for elections and policy-making in the European Union? The review reveals that while a growing literature has sought to explain individual support for European integration, more work is still needed to understand the ways in which opinions are shaped by their national context and how public contestation of the EU poses a challenge to, and an opportunity, for the future of the integration project.
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Integration in Europe has been a slow incremental process focusing largely on economic matters. Policy makers have tried to develop greater support for the European Union by such steps as creating pan-European political institutions. Yet significant opposition remains to policies such as the creation of a single currency. What explains continued support for the European Union as well as opposition among some to the loss of national control on some questions? Has the incremental process of integration and the development of institutions and symbols of a united Europe transformed public attitudes towards the European Union? In this book, Matthew Gabel probes the attitudes of the citizens of Europe toward the European Union. He argues that differences in attitudes toward integration are grounded in the different perceptions of how economic integration will affect individuals’ economic welfare and how perceptions of economic welfare effect political attitudes. Basing his argument on Easton’s idea that where affective support for institutions is low, citizens will base their support for institutions on their utilitarian appraisal of how well the institutions work for them, Gabel contends that in the European Union, citizens’ appraisal of the impact of the Union on their individual welfare is crucial because their affective support is quite low. This book will be of interest to scholars studying European integration as well as scholars interested in the impact of public opinion on economic policymaking.
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This article studies how different types of tolerance and perceived threat affect opinions about the EU immigration policy in Germany and the Netherlands. We assess to what extent social and political tolerance for and sociotropic and personal threats from Muslim immigrants influence EU citizens’ beliefs that immigration is one of the most important issues facing the EU. By experimentally manipulating religion of immigrant, level of perceived threat, and type of tolerance, we examine how people’s attitudes on immigration policies change. Our findings shed light on how EU countries might deal with the rising tide of intolerance toward immigrants and Muslims, and how better policies of integration could be implemented in a multicultural Europe.
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Political figures and events often elicit strong emotional responses in citizens. These responses have the power to impact judgments and information processing, as well as the types of information that individuals seek out. Recent examples of political events that have elicited strong emotional reactions are easily accessible. The fiasco in Florida during the presidential election of 2000 led many voters to experience anger at the outcome of the election and disgust at the process whereby it was decided. The terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, led citizens to experience a collective sense of fear and anxiety, along with sadness for the loss of life and anger at Osama bin Laden for masterminding the attacks. Along with these negative emotions was a sense of enthusiastic patriotism in the United States. Positive affective reactions, however, tend to be more general than negative reactions. That is, while positive reactions may be experienced as general positivity, negative feelings are typically more differentiated and may be experienced, for example, as fear, anger, sadness, disgust, or guilt (e.g., Averill 1980; Ellsworth and Smith 1988).
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This chapter tries to differentiate between anger and anxiety as distinct negative reactions to the Iraq war and explores their unique political effects. The distinct effects of anger and anxiety make clear the need to better understand their political consequences. The link between negative emotion and deeper levels of thought does not appear to extend to anger. Complex negative objects such as war and terrorism elicit diverse negative reactions. Americans had related but distinct feelings of anger and anxiety toward the war, terrorists, Saddam Hussein, and anti-war protesters. As anxiety and anger increase, respondents are more likely to report thinking about the Iraq war, talking about it, and, to a more limited extent, attending to national television news and newspapers. In general, the results raise serious concerns about the prevailing two-dimensional valence model of emotion.
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