Evocative Advocates and Stirring Statesmen: Law, Politics, and the Weaponization of Imagery
Forthcoming in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, Vol. 2.2, Fall 2018
23 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2018
Date Written: May 30, 2018
This article shows how descriptive imagery can be used to hijack evolved psychological instincts and prejudice the judgments of others, particularly in the legal and political domains. By mimicking the cues that represented threats to our ancestors, those wishing to color the perception of others can subtly trigger the affective responses that evolved to help navigate ancestral threats. When this happens, logic may be unseated in favor of deep-seated instinctual responses, often to a problematic degree. In this way, lawyers, politicians, and activists, taking a page out of the playbook of novelists and other storytellers, can weaponize words, images, descriptions, and narratives to (often improperly) sway the opinions of others.
Keywords: evolutionary legal studies, evolutionary analysis in law, law and psychology, law and the humanities
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