GV505-7-AU-CO:
Political Psychology

The details
2021/22
Government
Colchester Campus
Autumn
Postgraduate: Level 7
Current
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 17 December 2021
15
17 August 2021

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

(none)

Module description

Politics is about people. Everything – angry tweeting, constitutional design, environmental lobbying, states going to war – boils down to the opinions, decisions and behaviour of individuals, and understanding those is the territory of psychology. Political psychology is a growing and thriving subfield, to which this module provides a wide-ranging introduction.

We will apply both the theories and methods of psychology to the behaviour of a range of political actors – voters, leaders, protestors, even terrorists. This is a practical as well as a theoretical module, with heavy emphasis on how we learn about political psychology and with every student designing – and perhaps in their dissertation executing – a research project in the field.

Module aims

The aims of this module are to give students:
1. An understanding of the psychological underpinnings of the political phenomena studied in other PGT modules
2. A grounding in the core concepts in social, cognitive and personality psychology
3. Understanding of the drivers of and biases in human reasoning that shape political thinking
4. Understanding of how that political thinking interacts with and is shaped by political institutions
5. Accessible examples of empirical research that they can evaluate in terms of validity and usefulness
6. A feasible dissertation project option via the experimental design assignment
7. Greater empathy with ‘the other side’ in political terms, via an understanding of the psychology underlying ideological differences, polarisation and skewed perceptions.

Module learning outcomes

1. A firm grasp of where political psychology sits with respect to the broader disciplines of political science and psychology
2. Applicable knowledge of the core concepts in social, cognitive and personality psychology
3. Ability to assess the contribution and to assess the weaknesses of key readings in the field
4. Recognition that our conclusions about political psychology depend heavily on both definition and measurement
5. Experience of research design in practice via the experimental design assignment

Module information

Week 2: Politics and the brain
Week 3: Personality and values
Week 4: Authority and conformity
Week 5: Emotions
Week 6: Group identity
Week 7: Prejudice and polarisation
Week 8: Facts, fake news and conspiracies
Week 9: Leaders and decisions
Week 10: Conflict and peace
Week 11: Mental health and politics

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered with a weekly two-hour interactive seminar. Each session will consist of a blend of lecturing, Q&A, group and whole-class discussion – the precise blend to depend in part on student numbers. There There will be two Required Readings each week: one an academic article or chapter, another a topical piece – a blog post, newspaper article, Twitter thread, or some such – that illustrates the issues raised and provides a basis for class discussion. There will be longer lists of Useful Reading, helpful for detailed preparation and especially essay writing.

Bibliography

This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay  03/12/2021  40% 
Coursework   Experimental Design  21/01/2022  60% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Robert Johns, email: rajohn@essex.ac.uk.
Prof Rob Johns rajohn@essex.ac.uk; Module Administrator: Jamie Seakens, govpgquery@essex.ac.uk

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
Yes

External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 80 hours, 72 (90%) hours available to students:
8 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.

 

Further information
Government

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