What is Political Psychology?
If politics and psychology were to meet and hold hands, you would have political psychology. Political psychology is a field that examines the relationship between psychology and politics. In essence, the political psychologist applies psychological theories to political problems. Although political science is heavily involved in the study, psychology is stressed as the central field of study.
Political psychology emerged in the 1940s, when researchers began to psychoanalyze the correlation between politics and psychology. Political psychologists are those with a desire to find out the underpinnings and consequences political behavior has on the politician and the rest of the world. In order to do this, the political psychologist applies their knowledge of social science and psychology to the world of politics.
Political psychologists try to analyze the motives of politicians, as well as provide valuable information on political social relations. People who want to know why political events happen the way that they do would be interested in political psychology. Political psychology has roots that branch into several other disciplinary fields including sociology, anthropology, philosophy, international relations, and economics. In order to come to certain conclusions, a political psychologist may examine voting and elections, racism and prejudice, public opinion, and the media.
Political psychologists usually don't limit themselves to examining, observing, and diagnosing politicians. Political psychologists may also observe the public as a whole. A political psychologist may be interested in discovering what citizens really think of their government officials, and how they feel about political events and news. For this reason, politicians have an incentive to hire political psychologists to help them persuade public opinion, win elections, and win support for various issues.
Political psychologists are also often excellent journalists who are able to provide books, essays, and commentaries on important issues that are happening in the world. Someone who has studied political psychology may be able to provide a useful analysis that can enlighten people about current events. One interesting thing political psychologists have done is create tools so that citizens can recognize politicians who have a strong inclination towards dictatorship, war, and tyranny. These types of tools can help citizens keep from voting corrupt leaders in office.
One of the most popular schools of political psychology in the US is the Summer Institute in Political Psychology. The Institute was originally held on the campus of Ohio State University before moving to Stanford University. The institute encourages students who are studying political science or psychology to gather together for three weeks of lectures and discussion.
It it not true that PP started in the 1940's, there are papers written on the topic of PP from the 1900's and even before that. The term “political psychology” was first introduced by the ethnologist Adolph Bastian in his book "Man in History" (1860).
It is interesting to note that so many political leaders throughout history have had psychological disorders, especially bipolar disorder. I have heard that high serotonin levels contribute to leadership ability and can also contribute to various psychological disorders. Even among schools of fish, it has been observed that the leading fish tends to have a higher level of serotonin.
Politicians often have a strong grasp of what appeals to the voters, and hence, the psychology of voters. Understanding the wants, desires, and hopes, of a given group of people enables politicians and journalists to easily cater to them and become ideal candidates, advertising change which they know people will not turn down.
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