Political Psychology as a Perspective
in the Study of Politics
MARGARET G. HERMANN
Maxwell School, Syracuse University
In the past two decades, political psychology has become of increasing interest to scholars engaged in the study of politics. As a result, we now have an International Society of Political Psychology, a section in the American Political Science Association devoted to political psychology, and numerous smaller formal and informal organizations both within the United States and abroad that bring scholars together to talk about how political and psychological phenomena interrelate. The journal Political Psychology is now recognized as an important outlet for research and leading American and European journals in political science across the spectrum of specializations contain a growing number of articles using a political psychological perspective. Indeed, there are currently numerous articles in mainstream psychology journals that focus on political issues. And, each year new political psychology courses are added at the undergraduate and graduate levels in colleges and universities around the United States and elsewhere in the world.
However, because political psychology draws researchers and practitioners from a variety of disciplines and covers topics ranging, for example, from voting behavior to ethnic conflict to norm creation to leaders' decisions to use force, it has been difficult to arrive at a consensus about the nature of the field and how to train its future professionals. Those in leadership positions have preferred to “let 100 flowers bloom” rather than to seek closure too quickly, although recent meetings of both international