Cass Sunstein

Shutdown Psychology Made Simple

The best explanation of the U.S. government shutdown points to two factors. The first involves information, or what people think they know. The second involves incentives, or what motivates our elected representatives. From decades of empirical research, we know that when like-minded people speak with one another, they tend to become more extreme, more confident… Read more »

The Real Meaning of American Exceptionalism

In recent years, the term “American exceptionalism” has sometimes been an empty applause line, a fancy way of shouting “USA! USA!” Vladimir Putin recently went so far as to proclaim that “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional,” without bothering to investigate what American exceptionalism might entail. As it happens,… Read more »

How Poverty Takes Over the Mind

Suppose you got no sleep last night and you have to take an intelligence test today. If you’re like most people, you’re not going to do so well on that test. Now suppose you are struggling with poverty and you have to take the same intelligence test. How, if at all, will your test score… Read more »

Republicans’ Immigration Bind, as Explained by Aristotle

It is tempting to believe that a political party will act in accordance with its self-interest, which is to win elections. Democrats may be wrong, and Republicans may be wrong, but in the end, neither party will act in self-destructive ways. For this reason, many people argue that in the House and Senate, Republicans will… Read more »

Heroes and Soldiers of the Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court prepares to begin its new term, observers have been discussing the familiar divisions among the justices. Judicial activism is opposed to judicial restraint, liberalism is opposed to conservatism, and those who believe in an evolving or “living” Constitution are opposed to those who believe that the document’s meaning was fixed when… Read more »