Emotional Sensibility: Exploring the Methodological and Ethical Implications of Research Participants' Emotions

Wendy Pearlman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although political science increasingly investigates emotions as variables, it often ignores emotions' larger significance due to their inherence in research with human subjects. Integrating emotions into conversations on methods and ethics, I build on the term ethnographic sensibility to conceptualize an emotional sensibility that seeks to glean the emotional experiences of people who participate in research. Methodologically, emotional sensibility sharpens attention to how participants' emotions are data, influence other data, and affect future data collection. Ethically, it supplements Institutional Review Boards' rationalist emphasis on information and cognitive capacity with appreciation for how emotions infuse consent, risk, and benefit. It thereby encourages thinking not only about emotional harm but also about emotions apart from harm and about emotional harms apart from trauma and vulnerability. I operationalize emotional sensibility by tracking four dimensions of research that affect participants' emotions: the content of research, the context in which research occurs, researchers' positionality, and researchers' conduct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1241-1254
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume117
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 14 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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