Calendar of Events

Fall 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012
David Redlawsk (Political Science, Rutgers)
Rationality: An Overrated Part of Decision Making?
3:30 pm Curtin 175

Our parents always told us to "not be so emotional" when we make decisions. Ben Franklin argued that the best way to make a decision is to consider all aspects of it, lined up in columns labeled "pro" and "con," striking one from each side until the weight is on one side or the other. And rational decision theory says we must "follow a logic of consequence" and maximize utility. But what if good enough is simply good enough? Can humans be the kind of demonic processors envisioned by many models of rational choice? In this talk, David Redlawsk examines how behavioral decision theory provides a better understanding of what voters actually do in campaigns, including how shortcuts, emotions, and gut rationality help us make sense of the media blitz and complicated information environment of a political campaign.

Recommended background reading for the lecture: David P. Redlawsk and Richard R. Lau, Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, chapter 3, "Behavioral Decision Making" (new edition forthcoming)

David Redlawsk researches information, emotions, and voter decision-making in elections. He is the author of Why Iowa? How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process (with Caroline Tolbert and Todd Donovan) and How Voters Decide: Information Processing in an Election Campaign (with Richard Lau). He runs the Eagleton Poll, one of the oldest university-based polls in the country.



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