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Human Nature and the Policy Process: Expectations from Biology

Rebecca C. Harris (Washington and Lee University, USA)

Biopolitics at 50 Years

ISBN: 978-1-80262-108-2, eISBN: 978-1-80262-107-5

Publication date: 21 November 2022


Studies of public policy, particularly the explanation and prediction of policy outcomes, are motivated by a desire to improve policy success. However, most policies fall far short of solving problems. Why is it so difficult for policy to succeed? Biology's answer: because we are human. Many natural tendencies are less than optimal for the policy cognition and behavior necessary to make effective policy popular. The portions of human nature which are most interesting for our purposes include the way humans think, the role of emotion, the power of interpersonal relationships, the power of belonging to a group, and the power of competition for status. These human realities anticipate ineffective policy development. Knowing something about humans might explain why it is difficult for policy to succeed.



Harris, R.C. (2022), "Human Nature and the Policy Process: Expectations from Biology", Wohlers, T. and Fletcher, A. (Ed.) Biopolitics at 50 Years (Research in Biopolitics, Vol. 13), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 109-135.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Rebecca C. Harris. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited