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Do voters need therapy?

James Tilley, Professor of Politics, has been investigating why politics evokes such emotional reactions—and whether we are angrier than ever.

A 2019 study found that over two thirds of British people felt that Brexit had negatively impacted the country's mental health. Is this a reflection of the debate around borders, trade negotiations, and legal jurisdiction—or is it about how we, as a nation, feel about politics?

In a BBC Radio 4 programme—due to air initially on Monday 17 February 2020 at 20:30 (GMT)—he will explore the extent to which British politics is now 'steeped in cognitive distortion'. 

To accompany the radio broadcast, Prof Tilley has written a BBC News piece, discussing why we become so emotionally invested in political decisions. He argues that this is in part due to our social interactions: today, we are less likely to engage with those who have different political views than us, both on and offline. To create a less politically angry society, Prof Tilley suggests we need to change ourselves, and not the opinions of those whom we disagree with.

This work is a continuation of Prof Tilley's research into politics and belief. In the past, he has worked with the BBC to discuss topics such as conspiracy theories and changing the UK’s voting age.

Professor James Tilley is Professor of Politics and Fellow of Jesus College