Fear, anger and enthusiasm about the European Union: Effects of emotional reactions on public preferences towards European integration

Sofia Vasilopoulou, Markus Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How do emotions affect public opinion on the European Union? This article advances existing literature that focuses on cue-taking, utilitarianism and identity by arguing that emotional reactions are important to understanding citizen attitudes towards the European Union. This is because discrete emotions such as fear, anger and enthusiasm affect how individuals deal with threats and how they seek out, process and use information. We hypothesise that, compared to anxious citizens, those angry with the European Union are more likely to wish to leave the European Union, less receptive to cost–benefit considerations, and less nuanced in their opinions about integration. Our analyses, carried out using a survey conducted in the UK in April 2015, support our hypotheses. These results help us predict the effectiveness of political strategies, e.g. in referendum campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 382–405
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean union politics
Issue number3
Early online date29 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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© The Author(s) 2017. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Anger
  • Euroscepticism
  • emotional reactions
  • enthusiasm
  • fear

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