Political psychology: subject, problems, methodology and methods

Political psychology isinterdisciplinary science, which is at the intersection of sociology, psychology and political science. It has developed and spread more widely in the US and Canada, and to a lesser extent in the European countries. In Russia, the first works appeared only in the early nineties of the last century (E. Shestopal, A. Yuryev, E. Gantman-Egorova, etc.).

Political psychology has several subjects of study:

  • Psychological components in the political behavior of man. They are the focus of most studies.
  • The application of psychological knowledge in the explanation of political phenomena.

But that is not all. Political psychology is a young branch of science, therefore it is constantly supplemented by new research and theoretical developments. Each scientist adds his vision to the interpretation of the subject.

Political psychology deals with a wide range of problems.

First, foreign policy. It is about the psychology of peace and war, terrorism, political decision-making, ethnic and interstate conflicts, mutual perception of partners in the negotiation process.

Secondly, this science deals withinternal political life. It is about motivating the political participation of citizens in institutions and movements, discrimination against minorities, the psychology of forming political identity, and so on.

This young science has a special, specific problems. This is about:

  • macro-political processes of different levels (national, regional and global);
  • transitional processes (democratization, change of political institutions, identity change, dynamics of public opinion);
  • processes in the mass and grouppolitical consciousness, as well as behavior (decision-making, formation of political group attitudes, political conformism, leadership, conflicts, cooperation, mass political attitudes and so on);
  • political behavior and socialization of each citizen;
  • the perception by voters of leaders and elected representatives, their vocabulary, thinking, ideology, and technology in decision-making.

Methods of political psychology are guided bythen, to obtain empirical data of different levels. But the main emphasis is on studying individual consciousness and behavior. A wide use was made of the use of content analysis (speeches, documents, video materials), interviews and focus groups. In addition, political psychology in its arsenal has projective methods, tests, assessments of experts and so on. In the process of consulting with clients, some psychotherapeutic and corrective methods are used.

Separately it is necessary to dwell on the leading theoretical paradigms:

The main is political behaviorism. Its main task is to study various and specific forms in political behavior. The thoughts and feelings of the individual about the elected representatives, as well as the situation in the world and the country, are not taken into account. His supporters (R. Nayemi, D. Easton, D. Dennis, etc.) made a significant contribution to the study of various forms of political participation, interstate and interethnic conflicts, socialization, etc.

In addition, political psychology is basedon the development of cognitive or humanistic trends (D. Adelson, L. Colberg, R. Inglehart, S. Renshon, and others). They are mainly devoted to the fact that citizens think about politics, how leaders, parties are perceived and how the mass media influence the worldview of a person.

Political psychology is a young and dynamically developing science.

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