Political Psychology, which has its origins in the 1960s, is a multidisciplinary field with its core origins in psychology and political science. But there are connections and origins in anthropology, sociology, economics, international relations, education, business, military science, and other social and mathematical sciences, as statistical analysis is needed in any political science endeavor.
Many of the understandings of political psychology have their origins outside of political phenomena and are based in the group and social relations of humans throughout history. In other cases, new developments in political phenomena are creating uncharted territories to explore. New theory is being developed to account for new psychological developments in politics.
The goal of political psychology is to know more about how political phenomena unfold and to understand more about why they happen in the ways that they happen.
At the first level is the citizens: how and why they think in the ways that they do about politics. How and why they express themselves, engage in or refuse to engage in political processes, or how they perceive the effectiveness of political institutions, representatives and leadership, or even government as a whole is doing. Also, the individual motivations, ideologies and leanings are important as they aggregate into parties, movements and organizations that group and consolidate power.
Such issues as charismatic politicians and political ambition can be examined during the rise, career and fall of politicians and those who surround them.
Political thinking, strategy, motivation, and political decision making are examined from a psychological perspective. What went into a politician’s decision to engage in crime, to make strategic campaign and position decisions, or to make public utterances is of psychological as well as political science importance.
Also, politics as a prefix to many social activities, such as scandals, marketing, information technology, information handling, sophistication, distrust, cynicism, violence, socialization and identity development. finally, party preferences and ideology and polarization of ideology and political leanings are ripe pickings for a psychologist/political science scientist.
The psychology of political marketing technology, such as automated phone calls, opinion surveys and online interactions that are designed to both convince and to gather information is important, especially in environments where other factors affect the attitude toward politics, such as cynicism, sophistication and distrust.
Polarization of political ideology, especially in light of the mix with racism, gender issues, economic challenges and religious ideology is of great importance today. The great upheavals and disruptions in political systems and governments have occurred during times of personal, social and interpersonal distress from failing economies and perceptions of ineffective, corrupt or incompetent governments.
There is, indeed, much work to do in political psychology these days.
Universitat Leiden, “Political Psychology”