Political Studies 185
*The TuTh hours may need to be cancelled if there are meetings or lectures, so your best bet is to use the MWF hours.
This course provides an introduction to the psychological foundations of political life. It is a cross disciplinary course which requires some familiarity with both political science and psychology. During the course we will explore three different areas of psychology: affective, cognitive, and group psychology. We will apply those psychological theories to particular political problems including foreign policy decision making, the formation of belief systems, moral reasoning and ideology, colonialism, political socialization, political history, political culture, mass hysteria, psychohistory, Machiavellianism, authoritarianism and the formation of generational units.
|The survey of psychological theory will not be comprehensive. Rather, I have selected those theories which I have found most useful in constructing a model of the political mind. The affective theory will be a variety of psychoanalysis developed primarily by Erik Erikson, the cognitive theory is Piagetian, and the theory of group psychology we will employ is a product of a number of different psychologists, W.R. Bion being perhaps the most notable. These three areas represent the most important systems of the mind that must be understood if we are to understand political behavior.||Piaget||Freud||Erikson|
During the first few weeks of the course it may seem as if we are paying too much attention to psychology and not enough attention to politics. In addition, it may be difficult to see the relationship between cognitive, affective and group psychology. Be patient. The three theories do fit together, and each is a necessary tool for understanding political behavior.
The purpose of the course is to provide you with a model of the political mind that is fairly comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and flexible. Such qualities are not easily nor quickly achieved. Furthermore, it will be impossible for me to make all the necessary connections. You will have to provide sustained and concentrated attention if the goals of the course are to be achieved. If you are successful you should end the semester with a broader and deeper understanding of the political world.
In addition to the main goal of developing a model of the political mind, there are five other goals. The most general purpose of the course simply is to introduce you to some of the "classics" in the relatively new discipline of political psychology. A second purpose is to provide a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of politics. This is a deceptively simple goal, but is nevertheless of fundamental importance. It is my belief that the trend toward specialization within disciplines has run its course. The future will require people who are able to step across the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines in order to construct models of complex systems which encompass the tremendous accumulation of specialized knowledge which has accrued over the last century. A third purpose of the course is to provide some appreciation for the various steps involved in the conduct of social science inquiry, from theory construction through empirical confirmation. A fourth purpose is to sharpen your critical, writing, oral, and research skills. The ultimate purpose is to provoke thought and to enjoy the exploration of a new field.
One more general comment about the course is in order. This is a course about power. It may not seem so at first, but you ought to keep this focus in mind throughout the course. We are looking at how people respond to exercising power, how people respond when power is exercised over them, how people use power to achieve their ends, and how people respond to changing distributions of power. On that note it should be said that our relationships among ourselves are appropriate topics of discussion. Power in this course is shared with the group as a whole. Nothing is non-negotiable, anything can be changed.
Finally, a few words on my general orientation toward education are in order. You are the only person responsible for your education and you must take an active part in that process. If you expect to sit back and have me do your thinking for you or entertain you, you will be disappointed. I hope to challenge you, at times to guide you, and to provide as much intellectual stimulation as my abilities permit, but learning requires autonomy and initiative, and this you must provide. I expect you to challenge me and to question my assumptions. In the process I expect to learn at least as much from you as you may learn from me.
Grades will be based on the following five criteria:
1) By Tuesday, September 10, you will each submit a statement of your goals for the course. This statement should be as specific and detailed as possible. Plan your method for meeting the responsibilities of this course, set weekly goals and time schedules, or whatever will help you to think about why you are taking this particular course and how it fits your over-all learning goals. Then on the last day of class you will turn in a self-evaluation in which you will analyze how well you met your goals, how your goals changed, and what unforeseen goals emerged. You will then assign yourself an over-all grade based on your performance in this course and this will constitute ten percent of your final grade.
2) Five percent of your grade will be based on peer evaluations. On December 5, peer evaluations are due. Each student will email to me (email@example.com) an evaluation of each student's performance in the class. Type the name of the student being evaluated, followed by a LETTER GRADE (e.g., A, A-, AB, B+, B, etc.). The evaluators will remain anonymous. The grade given should reflect your judgment of the other students' contribution to your understanding of the issues raised in the course. For instance, did the student participate actively in class or outside class? How good were the students' oral presentations? In short, how effective was each student's participation in class? Below the student's name and the assigned grade type as thorough and thoughtful an analysis as possible of the basis of your evaluation, emphasizing strengths and weaknesses and making suggestions for improvement. Peer evaluations will constitute ten percent of the final grade. Failure to turn in peer evaluations will result in your peer evaluation registering as zero in calculating your final grade.
3) A three page (maximum) research design for testing a hypothesis in the field of political psychology. This is a much more difficult task than it may seem. You will each have an opportunity to re-write the research design. The design will be due October 3, and will constitute twenty percent of your final grade. Bill Trochim's Center for Social Research Methods will be a very useful site for working on your research design.
4) A five to seven page paper on a topic of your choice which must be approved by me. This paper will be due November 14 and will constitute twenty percent of your final grade.
5) A ten to twelve page paper summarizing and criticizing the field of political psychology as presented in the course readings and lectures. This is due on the last day of class (Dec. 12) and will constitute forty percent of your final grade. You should be working on the paper all semester long.
ALL LATE PAPERS WILL BE DOWNGRADED ONE GRADE FOR EACH 24 HOUR PERIOD THAT THE PAPER IS LATE.
I recommend that you consult with me early and often on your choice of research design and paper topics. You must be careful that your topics are in the field of political psychology, not psychology or politics per se. That is, the problem or issue you investigate must be "political", and you must use psychological theories or concepts in your analysis of the issue (or you must show how political processes affect psychological variables). Your definition of political, however, can be fairly broad as long as it is clearly spelled out. At the same time, you must be sure that your topic is not too narrowly political, i.e., you must spell out the psychological foundations of your argument. A second caution is that your paper must have a hypothesis. It can not be a mere description. Description is for journalism. You must state your hypothesis early in the paper and the remainder of the paper must be devoted to establishing your argument. Note that there is a world of difference between an assertion and an argument.
In researching your papers, the internet can be a useful resource, in particular the ISPP Homepage. If you need help on searching the internet, various search engines can be found for each component on the appropriate ILS module and there is a module devoted simply to searches
You may find the following links useful in exploring what is available on the WWW relevant to political psychology:
|Bion and Groups||Erik Erikson on the Web||Freud on the Web||ISPP Web Resources||Moral Development||Piaget on the Web||Psych Web|
Research Design: 20%
Short Paper: 25%
Long Paper: 40%
From time to time during the semester we will break up into smaller discussion groups of 3 to 5 people during class. These discussion groups will focus on one of the assigned readings. Each group will analyze and criticize the book or article and then we will re-constitute ourselves into one group and compare our conclusions. On some occasions one group will be assigned the task of defending the book, while the other group will point out its weaknesses. On each occasion when we break up into smaller discussion groups one or two individuals will be selected to lead the group's discussion when we move back into the larger group. Near the end of the semester we will divide the assigned readings among members of the class who will summarize their assigned reading for the rest of the class. This will reduce some of the reading load at the end of the semester while still covering the material.
Copies of all reading assignments are on reserve at Honnold library. In addition, copies of many articles and chapters from books are on reserve at Marquis. We will be making extensive use of the following books and although all but the Hoover book are on reserve in the library, I recommend you purchase the majority for your personal use, but I urge you to form several book cooperatives among members of the class so that no one must buy all the books. If three people team up to share the costs of the books, it should be easy to coordinate access when the books are needed.
Altemeyer, Bob; The Authoritarian Specter
Gilligan, Carol; In A Different Voice
Hoover, Kenneth; The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking
Janis, Irving; Groupthink
Milgram, Stanley; Obedience to Authority
Piaget, Jean & Inhelder, Barbara The Psychology of the Child
Jim Sidanius & Felicia Pratto; Social Dominance
The dates preceding the readings are the dates by which the reading must be completed. Copies of articles are on reserve at Honnold and Marquis.