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date: 26 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

Cognitive psychology highlights the constraints that prevent individuals from acting as utility-maximizing, fully rational decision-makers. These constraints lead people to rely on a regularly occurring set of cognitive mechanisms to simplify the decision-making process. Scholars of foreign policy have drawn from several prominent areas of cognitive psychology to inform their research. One such area looks at the beliefs and belief systems that are the building blocks for most judgments. Researchers have also examined how actors use cognitive biases and heuristics to cope with uncertainty, which is abundant in foreign policy settings. An important set of cognitive mechanisms examined in foreign policy analysis (FPA) relates to judgments about policy risks and costs. In order to make inferences and predictions about behavior concerning voting decision, certain key public influences must be considered. These influences include the role of emotions, political socialization, political sophistication, tolerance of diversity of political views, and the media. The effect of these influences on voting behavior is best understood through theories on the formation of attitudes, beliefs, schema, knowledge structures, and the practice of information processing. The degree to which voting decision is affected by internal processing systems of political information alters the quality of making truly democratic decisions.

Keywords: cognition psychology, cognitive mechanisms, foreign policy analysis, decision-making, cognitive biases, political socialization, information processing

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