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When Can Politicians Scare Citizens Into Supporting Bad Policies? A Theory of Incentives with Fear-Based Content

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  • Lupia, Arthur
  • Menning, Jesse

Abstract

Analysts make competing claims about when and how politicians can use fear to gain support for suboptimal policies. Using a model, we clarify how common attributes of fear affect politicians’ abilities to achieve self-serving outcomes that are bad for voters. In it, a politician provides information about a threat. His statement need not be true. How citizens respond differs from most game-theoretic models – we proceed from more dynamic (and realistic) assumptions about how citizens think. Our conclusions counter popular claims about how easily politicians use fear to manipulate citizens, yield different policy advice than does recent scholarship on counterterrorism, and highlight issues (abstract, distant) and leaders (secretive) for which recent findings by political psychologists and public opinion scholars will – and will not – generalize.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 102.

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Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision: 11 Sep 2006
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:102

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Related research

Keywords: emotions; behavioral economics; game theory; political science; incentives;

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  1. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-77, Fall.
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