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The Psychological Origins of Mass Politics


Admission requirements and any restrictions.



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 consider the origins of political and social tolerance for dissimilar others.

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

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

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:

1) the final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average
2) the final grade for the course is established by (i) determination of the weighted average combined with (ii) additional requirements. These additional requirements generally relate to one or more of the subtests always be sufficient
Also state if (and if there is how) there is opportunity to re-take the exam.

The final grade is based on the following:
1. Attendance and Class Participation
2. Two brief critical reviews
3. A research proposal


Blackboard is used mainly for organizational purposes.

Reading list



See general information on tab 'Year 3'