The Psychological Aspect of Politics

Politics and psychology have a deep relationship. The way we think plays an important part in the formation of our political ideologies. Political circumstances in turn affect our psychologies. The following are some of the ways politics and psychology are intertwined.

Motivated reasoning- The phenomenon in which people perceive and evaluate arguments to fit or support a preconceived conclusion. This is because reasoning away contradictions is easier than changing one’s general opinion. To study this phenomenon, psychologists Hadley Cantril and Albert Hastorf conducted a study after the popular Dartmouth v. Princeton soccer game in the 1950s. Subjects from Princeton were more likely to point out penalties made by the Dartmouth team than their own and vice versa. This is because humans have a tendency to make conclusions that we favor in the first place. Supporters of both teams wanted their team to come out victorious, and hence, it was easier for them to remember information that supports their conclusions, they are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to obtain.


Stubbornness about opinions = knowledge about politics- Studies show, that the more a person knows about politics or the political background and history of their country, the more stubborn they tend to be about their political opinions. This concept is similar to motivated reasoning.

The mix between our personal and political identities- Because our political and personal identities are so mixed up, we often confuse them and take any opposition to our political beliefs as an attack on our individual personalities. That’s why you see so many people getting so intense when you counter or attack their political views, candidate/party of choice, etc.

Difference in perception- The fact that not everyone believes in the same thing as you might irk you as it does most people. This is because of our different understandings of things. An argument that might sound convincing to you, might not make even a little bit of sense to the person opposing your opinion/ ideology. This is because it is often hard to change one’s ‘Moral Foundation’.


The relationship between politics and fear- The emotion fear deeply affects a person’s political views. For example, if the elections fall right after attacks orchestrated by a particular community, it is noted that people tend to show support for political parties with more conservative views.
There’s more than this that binds politics and psychology together. But these are the primary reasons why we needed a whole different field called political psychology.

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