Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

John Elliott

Second Advisor

H. Abbie Erler

Third Advisor

David Rowe

Abstract

In this paper, I begin by establishing the premise that the human brain evolved to be efficient at the expense of being logically consistent, and operates using a host of non-conscious processes that have a significant degree of influence on political attitudes and behaviors. I then use this premise to reconcile competing claims in the literature regarding political ideology and make the case that the discipline of political science should be as concerned with explaining observed phenomena as it should be with predicting it. Next, I draw both from previous evidence and my own experience working on political campaigns to explain elements of campaign and voter behavior. I then present findings from a study examining the effects of argumentation and deliberation on attitude change, finding no statistically significant results but suggesting avenues for further research. Finally, I discuss the implications that an updated understanding of political cognition can have in terms of updating an understanding of sound democratic theories.

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