Political Psychology and Public Thought



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

Ideological public opinions, their personal relevance and related political behavior are important subjects of social psychological research as they reveal the bonds between the individual and political community. Studying historical processes, especially the power relations of past dictatorships is essential to develop the conceptual background for political psychology. Acknowledging these backgrounds, the processes of governance and political elections in
democracies are in the focus of our course. It is in our special interest to study the quartercentury of Hungarian democracy after the fall of communism. It provides a possibility to study long term tendencies with dedicated methodological tools and on a well-constructed theoretical-conceptual basis. Theories about intergroup relations are central to contemporary social psychology. They are relevant to the Hungarian context too, but need certain reconsiderations. Justification of the system and counter-selection processes are seen in a specific light here, as interestingly interconnected to public views about the rule of law and about the democratic political system on the one hand, and to value systems and political ideologies on the other. Popular conceptions of the nation, motivations for social equality, and social/societal well-being – latter being a key concept for social psychology – are to be considered for understanding the shades of conservative, socialist, and liberal ideologies in Hungary. Thus the course deals with classic topics of political psychology but extends its scope to other traditional fields of social psychology that are closely related to political processes and adds the specificities of the Hungarian case to them.

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  • Ferrero, G. (1942) The Principles of Power. New York: C. P. Putnam.
  • Haslam, S.A., Reicher, S.D., Platow, M.J., (2011) The new psychology of leadership. Identity, influence and power. New York: Psychology Press.
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  • Lukacs, J., (2005) Democracy and Populism: Fear & Hatred. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • McGuire, W. J. (1993) The Poly-Psy Relationship: Three Phases of a Long Affair. In S. lyengar & W. J. McGuire (eds.) Explorations in Political Psychology (pp. 9-35). Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Sears, D. O., Huddy, L. & Jervis, R. (2003) (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.