The psychology of politicians


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Referent power results in greater popularity of a political group or leader than coercive power Shaw and Condelli, However, if coercive power is enforced, success and a trusted leader Friedland, are necessary in order for group conflict not to escalate. A sense of freedom must be advocated to the group. Decision-making is an important political process which influences the course of a country's policy. Group decision-making is largely influenced by three rules; " majority -wins rule", " truth -wins rule", and "first-shift rule".

Decision-making is also coerced by conformity. Irrational decisions are generally made during emotional periods. Controversial studies by George Marcus however imply that high levels of anxiety can actually cause an individual to analyze information more rationally and carefully, resulting in more well-informed and successful decisions. The implementation of successful decision-making is often enhanced by group decision-making Hill, especially if the decision is important to the group and when the group has been working together for an extended period of time Watson, Michaelson and Sharp, However groups can also hinder decision-making if a correct answer is not clear.

Janis introduced the notion of Groupthink that advocates an increased chance of groups making faulty decisions under several conditions; strong group cohesion, isolation of group decision from public review, the presence of a directive leader in the group, and high stress levels. Group polarization Janis, suggests that group decision-making is often more extreme whether is it more risky or cautious. Techniques to establish more effective decision making skills in political dimensions have been suggested. Hirt and Markman claim that implementing an individual in a group to find faults and to critique will enable the members to establish alternative view points.


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George suggested "multiple advocacy" which implements that a neutral person analyses the pros and cons of various advocate suggestions and thus makes an informed decision. Applied psychology theories to improve productivity of political groups include implementing " team development " techniques, "quality circles" and autonomous work groups. Evolutionary Psychology plays a significant role in understanding the state and people of how the current political regime came to be.

It is an approach that focuses on the structure of human behavior claiming its dependence on the social and ecological environment. Developed through natural selection, the human brain functions to react appropriately to environmental challenges of coalitional conflict using psychological mechanisms and modifications. An example of political conflict would involve state aggression such as war. Psychological mechanisms work to digest what is taken in from internal and external information regarding the current habitat and project it in the most suited form of action such as acts of aggression, retrieval, dominance, and so forth.

In order to make inferences and predictions about behavior concerning voting decision, certain key public influences must be considered.

These influences include the role of emotions, political socialization, political sophistication , tolerance of diversity of political views and the media. The effect of these influences on voting behavior is best understood through theories on the formation of attitudes, beliefs, schema, knowledge structures and the practice of information processing. The degree to which voting decision is affected by internal processing systems of political information and external influences, alters the quality of making truly democratic decisions.

The application of psychology for understanding conflict and extreme acts of violence can be understood in both individual and group terms. Political conflict is often a consequence of ethnic disparity and "ethnocentrism" Sumner On an individual level participators in situations of conflict can either be perpetrators, bystanders or altruists.

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The behavior of perpetrators is often explained through the authoritarian personality type. Individual differences in levels of empathy have been used to explain whether an individual chooses to stand up to authority or ignore a conflict. Rotter's locus of control theory in personality psychology has also been used to determine individual differences in reaction to situations of conflict. Group behavior during conflict often affects the actions of an individual. The bystander effect introduced by Darley and Latane demonstrates that group behavior causes individuals to monitor whether others think it is necessary to react in a situation and thus base their behavior on this judgment.

They also found that individuals are more likely to diffuse responsibility in group situations. These theories can be applied to situations of conflict and genocide in which individuals remove personal responsibility and therefore justify their behavior. Social identity theory explains that during the Holocaust of World War II political leaders used the Jews as an out-group in order to increase in-group cohesion. This allowed for the perpetrators to depersonalize from the situation and to diffuse their responsibility.

The out-groups were held in separate confines and dehumanized in order to aid the in-group to disengage themselves from relating.

The psychology of changing political viewpoints | WIRED UK

Research by Dr. Dan Kahan has demonstrated that individuals are resistant to accepting new political views even if they are presented with evidence that challenges their views. The research also demonstrated that if the individual was required to write a few sentences about experiences they enjoyed or spend a few moments affirming their self-worth, the individual was more likely to accept the new political position.

Although somewhat unusual, evolutionary psychology can also explain conflicts in politics and the international society. A journal by Anthony C. According to the authors, instincts and psychological characteristics developed through evolution is still existent with modern people. They suggest human being as "adaptation executers"; people designed through natural selection, and not "utility maximizers"; people who strive for utility in every moment. Though a group of people, perhaps those who are in the same political coalition, may seem as if they pursue a common utility maximization, it is difficult to generalize the theory of "utility maximizers" into a nation-view because people evolved in small groups.

This approach helps scholars to explain seemingly irrational behaviors like aggressiveness in politics and international society because "irrational behavior" would be the result of a mismatch between the modern world and evolutionary psychology. For example, according to evolutionary psychology, coalitional aggression is more commonly found with males.

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This is because of their psychological mechanism designed since ancestral times. During those times men had more to earn when winning wars compared to women they had more chance of finding a mate, or even many mates. Also, the victorious men had more chance of reproduction which eventually led to the succession of aggressive, eager-to-war DNAs.

As a result, the authors hypothesize that countries with more men will tend to show more aggressive politics thereby having more possibility of triggering conflicts within and especially among states. Indeed, some exceptions do exists in this theory as this is just a hypothesis. However it is viable enough to be a hypothesis to be tested to explain certain political events like war and crisis.

On an individual level terrorism has been explained as a display of psychopathological personality disorders. Terrorists have demonstrated to show narcissistic personality traits Lasch, , Pearlstein, Post argues that narcissistic and borderline personality disorders are found in terrorists and that mechanisms such as splitting and externalization are used by terrorists. Crenshaw showed that certain terrorist groups are actually careful in not enlisting those demonstrating pathology.

In terms of explaining reasons for which individuals join terrorist groups, motivational theories such as need for power and need for affiliation intimacy are suggested. Festinger explained that people often join groups in order to compare their own beliefs and attitudes. Joining a terrorist group could be a method to remedy individual uncertainty. Taylor and Louis explained that individuals strive for meaningful behavior. This can also be used to explain why terrorists look for such radical beliefs and demonstrations.

Studies on children in northern Ireland by Field have shown that exposure to violence can lead to terrorist behavior later on. Implicating the effect of developing acceptable norms in groups. However this view has also been criticized Taylor, Other theories suggest that goal frustration can result in aggression Dollard, Doob.

What Psychological Traits Make a Perfect Politician?

Miller, mower, and Sears, [40] and that aggression can lead to frustration Borum, Group settings can cause a social identity and terrorist behavior to manifest. Methods such as dehumanization allow individuals to detach more easily from moral responsibility, and group influence increase the chance that individuals will concede to conformity and compliance. Manipulations of social control and propaganda can also instrument terrorist involvement. In fact, a strategic model has been proposed to examine the political motivations of terrorists.

The strategic model, the dominant paradigm in terrorism studies, considers terrorists are rational actors who attack civilians for political ends. According to this view, terrorists are political utility maximizers.

What Traits Should a Politician Have?

The strategic model rests on three core assumptions which are: 1 terrorists are motivated by relatively stable and consistent political preferences; 2 terrorists evaluate the expected political payoffs of their available options; and 3 terrorism is adopted when the expected political return is superior to those of alternative options. However, it turns out that terrorists' decision-making process does not fully conform to the strategic model. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the discipline. For the journal, see Political Psychology journal.

Basic types. Applied psychology. Primary topics. Index of politics articles Politics by country Politics by subdivision Political economy Political history Political history of the world Political philosophy.

The psychology behind globalism, nationalism & political tribalism - Jonathan Haidt

Political systems. Academic disciplines. Political science political scientists. International relations theory. Public administration. Bureaucracy street-level Adhocracy. Public policy doctrine Domestic and foreign policy Civil society Public interest. Organs of government. Separation of powers Legislature Executive Judiciary Election commission. Related topics. Sovereignty Theories of political behavior Political psychology Biology and political orientation Political organisations Foreign electoral intervention.


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Chapter 1, pp. New York: Springer 2nd ed. More elaborate backgrounds in: Van Ginneken. Crowds, psychology and politics. New York: Cambridge University Press. And its sequel: Van Ginneken, J. Mass movements. Apeldoorn Neth.

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