Elizabeth A. Stanley and Kelsey L. Larsen. “Stressed Out: The Missing Influence of Stress Arousal in Emotion’s Role in Political Decision-Making.” Political Psychology (2021). https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12793
Over the last two decades, there has been increased interest in the role of emotions in decision-making, with new theorizing to highlight how leader decisions often differ from rational choice and purely cognitive models. To date, however, existing theories have not adequately explained why emotions drive decisions in some situations and not others. This article posits that the variation in emotion’s role in leader decision-making likely results from currently undertheorized connections between leaders’ stress arousal levels, stress loads, and emotions. It explores how leaders’ neurobiological windows of tolerance to affect arousal influence their capacity to regulate their emotions and make decisions. It introduces the mediating role of leaders’ self-regulatory capacity—their capacity to regulate stress and emotions so that these phenomena do not drive resulting decisions—as an explanation for variation in emotion’s influence on decision-making. Finally, it formally illustrates the argument put forth by comparing two decisions made by U.S. President Bill Clinton as his window of tolerance varied over time.