Political the leader, as well as their control of

Political Psychology is an empirical discipline that studies how human factors shape political behaviour and thus political outcomes. The discipline claims that political processes and its outcomes are in part shaped by the preferences, choices and actions of particular individuals and groups, and that in order to explain and better understand how these political preferences and choices are made, it is necessary to study personal characteristics and relationships of these individuals and groups empirically (t.Hart, 2010). The study of Political Psychology has broadened our understanding of behaviour of political elites, by studying how personal characteristics and background of politicians influence their political behaviour, and it  was also able to provide some meaningful insights into the political behaviour of ordinary citizens, as demonstrated in numerous studies on the formation of public opinion on political issues (t.Hart, 2010). Over the years the discipline has moved from studying observational data to laboratory investigations and in recent years to field experiments (Marsh & Stoker, 2010), it is also became focused on development and understanding of public policy.   In its early years, a large contribution into the field of Political Psychology was made by an Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Freud’s foundational writings concerning personality development and traits (‘On Narcissism’, 1914; ‘Totem and Taboo’, 1913; ‘Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego’, 1921) have helped to establish one of the first links between psychoanalysis and politics. One of his main ideas was that the interaction of the ego and superego in the personality of the leader, as well as their control of the pleasure principle and reality principle, determines leader’s behaviour and decision making skill (Post, 2013). Freud is also attributed with the co-writing of one of the first political psychobiographies about the 28th U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, which examined how Woodrow’s personality and character traits affected his decision making during his presidency and World War I.  Freud’s contribution into the field was later noted by the founding father of Political Psychology, Harold Lasswell, who saw in Freud’s theories important implications for the study of political leaderships. Through the study of the development of political man, Lasswell conceptualized the psychodynamics of the ‘powerseeker’, arguing that experiences that political man undergoes in private life “generate repression of inner impulses which then are displaced onto the public arena and rationalized in terms of his/her conception of the public interest” (Greenstein, 1977; pxvi). Lasswell’s psychoanalytic theory contributed to the understanding of leaders and layed a foundation to the study of political elites. There are however problems with Lasswell’s work. The sole focus on observational work has led to the absence of any form of applied research. In its turn, this leads to the issues with validity, both external and internal,  since a number of interpretations of leader’s character are plausible, public and private lives of leaders can be very separate, therefore real-life applications of Lasswell’s research are rather imprecise (Seminar 2, day 1). After the Second World War the focus on the psychology of mass politics has all but surpassed the initial focus on the psychology of political elites (Staub, 1989). With a number of prominent mass genocides being committed in the second half of the 20th century (Holocaust, Khmer Rouge), political psychology has become more and more interested in understanding of groups and group behaviour. Study into the groups have helped to develop such concepts as groupthink – worsening of mental efficiency and moral judgement that results from in-group pressures (Janis, 1982) – , prejudice – a feeling, favorable or unfavorable, toward an individual or a group, prior to, or not based on, actual experience (Allport, 1954) – and discrimination – behaviour manifestation of prejudice (Seminar 3, Day 2). These research has led to a more developed understanding of psychology of thinking within and outside of groups, helped formulation of theories such as the ‘bystander effect’ – where an individual is less inclined to intervene in an emergency situation when other people are present, as each individual believes that someone will eventually intervene first (Abbate, Ruggieri & Boca, 2013). Research by Stanley Milgram (1974) on obedience to the authority has demonstrated that people are more inclined to carry out a harmful act then to disobey supposed authority. This has been able to provide some explanation to the numerous atrocities committed in the 20th century. The introduction of the experimental method to the field of political psychology has helped with the issues of validity and allowed for more cohesive and relevant to the real world research (Pirlott & MacKinnon, 2016). The research on confirmation bias and false memories have been able to contribute to the field of applied behavioural science, which, unlike mainstream economy, does not view humans as rational actors (Redlawsk & Lau, 2013). One of the biggest contributors to this field is Daniel Kahneman (2011) with his work on two Systems of processing of information, with System 1 responsible for immediate intuitive processing and System 2 for more rational processing. This work in behavioural science has been able to make political psychology more applicable to public policy making. The implementation of applied behavioural science insights by President Barack Obama in order to better structure government programs and public policies (The White House, 2015), as well as the establishment of the Social and Behavioural Science Team (SBST 2017) has proved that political psychology is now relevant more than ever.  In conclusion, the discipline of Political Psychology has developed over time from theoretical discipline to a more experiment oriented study that has become more relevant and applicable to the modern day politics. Political Psychology has provided us with an extensive study of elites and leaders, as well as groups and group behaviours. The discipline has also proved that it can heavily contribute to public policy making.