Psychology is at the heart of policymaking, but the literature on psychology is not always at the heart of policy theory. Most theories identify ‘bounded rationality’ which, on its own, is little more than a truism: people do not have the time, resources and cognitive ability to consider all information, all possibilities, all solutions, or anticipate all consequences of their actions. Consequently, they use informational shortcuts or heuristics – perhaps to produce ‘good-enough’ decisions. This is where psychology comes in, to:
- Describe the thought processes that people use to turn a complex world into something simple enough to understand and/ or respond to; and
- To compare types of thought process, such as (a) goal-oriented and reasoned, thoughtful behaviour and (b) the intuitive, gut, emotional or other heuristics we use to process and act on information quickly.
Where does policy theory come in? It seeks to situate these processes within a
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