Research in cognitive sciences is dictating that we can no longer rely on the presentation of scientific facts when building policy.

You're up there presenting to council the policy you just developed. You're confident in your baby: it's evidence-based, after all. You probably even wrote that in your report. You did your background research, accumulated and consolidated information. You poured over it and whittled down the data into tight policy statements. You completed what's considered the "problem-oriented approach" to writing policy. There was a gap, a problem. You resolved it. That's what your policy is based on. It's likely a failure.

Recently, a paper in the Policy Sciences journal used research in cognitive sciences to more fully understand the multifaceted nature of developing policy. The authors, Cairney and Weible, convey that the evidence-based approach to policy development does not consider the "too-messy link between cognitive and contextual explanations for action."

We've long understood that there's a limit to what we can research to develop policy. Only recently, state Cairney and Weible, have we begun to draw on social and organizational psychology to understand how emotions act as informational short cuts and coexist with cognition. We're learning the importance of group processes in leveraging emotional decision-making over rational thought.Source: PlaNetizen]

The new policy sciences: combining the cognitive science of choice, multiple theories of context, and basic and applied analysis

Paul CairneyEmail authorChristopher M. Weible

It is time to imagine a new policy sciences. The policymaking world has moved on since its first design. So too has our understanding of it. The original policy sciences were contextualized, problem-oriented, multi-method, and focused on using scientific research towards the realization of greater human dignity. We introduce a new policy sciences that builds on such aims. We describe the need for realistic depictions of ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ choice, multiple theories to portray the multifaceted nature of complex contexts, and the combination of applied and basic research. To set this new agenda, we build on two foundational strategies: identifying advances in the psychology of decision-making and describing how policy theories depict policymaking psychology in complex contexts.

Keywords: Bounded rationality Complexity Policy sciences Policy process Policy analysis Public policy
DOI: 10.1007/s11077-017-9304-2