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Using Emotional Optics To Turn Political Vices Into Virtues

by Peter A. Wish

Pub Date: March 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5445-0729-3
Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

An insightful look at politicians through a psychological lens.

As a syndicated columnist for the Boston Globe and a frequent national television and radio guest, Wish is known for being able to explain cutting-edge psychological concepts to mass audiences. He’s also served as a political consultant, most notably on future Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Romney seemed to Republican insiders to be a sure winner, as he was articulate, handsome, and unflappable; however, Wish saw that Romney seemed “too perfect” and thus failed to personally connect with voters. According to the author, voters aren’t driven by policy or polish but by emotion; for example, President George W. Bush’s numerous gaffes made him more likable to voters, who were drawn to his perceived authenticity. Using a blend of psychological theory and absorbing political anecdotes, Wish analyzes the “7 deadly sins” that are most often committed by politicians who fail to apply psychological know-how to voter outreach. Although the “sins,” such as being “too cerebral,” are morally neutral, their corresponding values, such as empathy and decisiveness, resonate with voters who are driven by “survival instincts” and “anger, enthusiasm, and anxiety,” Wish says. President Donald Trump commits some of Wish’s “sins,” but his success is due to his ability to tap into his supporters’ emotions. The author’s psychological insights will appeal to political junkies as well as anyone in a leadership position. His analysis of “the science of first impressions,” in-depth breakdowns (with charts) of body posture and “power poses,” and emphasis on the importance of storytelling have wide applicability. A gendered analysis is noticeably missing, however, which is surprising given contemporary conversations about misogyny and the failed presidential bids of several women candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. For example, how do men respond to women who deploy “power poses”? And more importantly, how can women candidates use contemporary psychology to break political glass ceilings?

An engaging, practical guide to the psychological dynamics of electoral politics.