Making Sense From (Apparent) Senselessness: The JCR Lens
Posted: 11 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 7, 2018
What explains the emergence of nativist and populist movements across the globe? From the election of Donald Trump to the vote for Brexit, pundits wonder how and why these unforeseen outcomes came to pass. Why were people so surprised about these outcomes? Why do people sometimes vote against their self-interest? And why do people fall prey to fake news and believe seemingly outrageous claims? In this, our last editorial, we claim that some answers to these questions can be found in the pages of this journal — in articles published in JCR. While JCR welcomes and publishes many different types of papers, it has traditionally focused on theory building, and our goal in this article is to show how rich and robust theoretical work — uncovering the “why” behind effect s— can help us explain and understand events. In our view, such understanding remains a key goal of science, even though immediate practical application of many JCR papers may not seem obvious.
We will address the first two questions relying on the literatures on optimism, motivated reasoning and forgetting, survey and prediction pool biases, the affective bases for decisions, and the potential for social performance and media influence. Then we turn to a critical question that looms large and could provoke undesired consequences: how do people determine whether a claim is true?
Keywords: Politics, Optimism, Motivated Reasoning, Survey Biases, Affect, Truth
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