Political science, Psychology

This course is co-sponsored by the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP)


Course date

13 July - 24 July, 2015
The application process is closed.
Course Director(s): 

Levente Littvay

Department of Political Science / Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Aleksandra Cichocka

School of Psychology, University of Kent, United Kingdom

Christopher Cohrs

SHSS, Jacobs University Bremen, Germany

John Jost

Center for Social and Political Behavior​, New York University, USA

Federico Vegetti

Department of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Manager: 

Martin Mölder

Central European University, Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations, Budapest, Hungary
Political psychology is the study of political behaviour of individuals and groups in the context of what we know about human psychological characteristics. It is a discipline at the intersection of political science and psychology and includes research on various topics, such as the formation and change of political attitudes and ideologies and how these relate to political behaviour (e.g. voting or political participation more broadly), the formation of group identities and intergroup conflict, including nationalism and extremism, ethnic identities, gender roles and many other essential and problematic areas of our social and political existence. All of these topics concern the attitudes, ideas and belief systems – ideologies – that people hold and which thus structure political behaviour.
The substantive focus of this specific course is on how attitudes and ideologies structure certain critical aspects of social interaction, group formation and intergroup conflict. The course begins with an introductory block that will give an overview of political psychology through methods that are or could be used in the discipline. This block will cover survey design, experiments and Q methodology. The substantive part of the course, structured in two blocks according to the expertise of the faculty, focuses on political attitudes/ideologies, social groups and on how social conflict emerges as an interplay of these. The course covers a perspective on intergroup conflict that pays particular attention to societal dynamics and to socially shared belief systems. Thereafter, the course will focus on examining the interplay between the individual and contextual factors that shape political attitudes and political action. We examine these factors from the perspectives of social identity theory and system justification theory. We will consider the role of personal, group and system motives in shaping political orientation and beliefs about the socio-political system, with special emphasis on regional and cultural variation.
In addition to the seminars, the course also include additional activities to facilitate networking with people in this field and workshops, where the participants will present their works in progress on topics related to political psychology. For the purpose of encouraging collaboration between participants, we will organize in the beginning of the course what is called “science speed dating”, which will function to familiarise the participants with each other’s work, provide potential for collaboration, as well as an ice-breaker in the beginning of the event. In order to improve the potential of the participants for international publishing and research, we will organize two workshops on publishing and on grant writing. Two days of the course will be devoted to student presentations about the papers and research ideas.
Course assistants:
  • Elena Cristina Balea, Department of Political Science, CEU, Budapest, Hungary
  • Manuel Bosancianu, Department of Political Science, CEU, Budapest, Hungary