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The Psychological Origins of Mass Politics



This course examines what psychology can tell us about political phenomenon. We will begin by discussing the psychological roots of political behavior with a focus on the contributions made by socialization experiences, biology, personality traits, and values. We will then consider the psychological process of decision making, including the role played by memory, emotions, and information in structuring people's beliefs about politics. Finally, we'll discuss the role of social groups in the psychology of mass politics. Here we will analyze the psychology of group identification and prejudice and the conditions under which people conform to social norms and behaviors.

Course objectives

The learning objectives for the course are as follows. By the end of the course, students should be able to:
1. Systematically explain the contents of psychological theories of public opinion and political behavior and critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses
2. Apply psychological theory to novel political questions

Mode of Instruction

Short lectures & seminar-style discussions

Reading List


Course Load

Total course load: 280 hours
Seminars: 30 hours
Studying the literature: 125 hours
Preparation for the critical review essays and final research project: 125 hours

Assessment Method

The final grade is based on the following:
1. Attendance and class participation
2. One essay
3. One literature review


See tab 'Practical Information'