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Understanding our political nature: how to put knowledge and reason at the heart of policymaking

Advances in behavioural, decision and social sciences show that humans are not purely rational beings.

As a result, this report brings new insights to political behaviour.

It calls upon evidence-informed policymaking not to be taken for granted.

Contributing to the research that underpins this JRC report were:

  • 60 experts from around the world
    • Behavioural scientists
    • Social scientists
    • Experts from the Humanities

There is a chapter dedicated to each key finding.

The latest scientific thinking as well as possible implications for policymaking are outlined.

The key findings from the report are:

Misperception and disinformation

Our thinking skills are challenged by today's information environment and make us vulnerable to disinformation. We need to think more about how we think.

Collective intelligence

Science can help us re-design the way policymakers work together to take better decisions and prevent policy mistakes.


We can't separate emotion from reason. Better information about citizens' emotions and greater emotional literacy could improve policymaking.

Values and identities

Values and identities drive political behaviour but are not properly understood or debated

Framing, metaphor and narrative

Facts don't speak for themselves. Framing, metaphors and narratives need to be used responsibly if evidence is to be heard and understood.

Trust and openness

The erosion of trust in experts and in government can only be addressed by greater honesty and public deliberation about interests and values.

Evidence-informed policymaking

The principle that policy should be informed by evidence is under serious attack. Politicians, scientists and civil society need to defend this cornerstone of liberal democracy.

Download the report

The report "Understanding our political nature: how to put knowledge and reason at the heart of policymaking" is available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Download the report

Enlightenment 2.0

"Understanding our political nature" is the first output from the Enlightenment 2.0 research programme.

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Enlightenment 2.0 research programme

Facts4EUFuture - a series of reports for the future of Europe