Psychological Political Science Versus
Political Psychology True to Its Name:
A Plea for Balance
JON A. KROSNICK
KATHLEEN M. MCGRAW
The Ohio State University
“What is political psychology?” the editor asks. There are as many different answers to this question as there are chapters in the volume. Everyone with a nodding scholarly acquaintance with “political psychology” understands that it is the intellectual and scientific activity that takes place at the intersection of political science and psychology. Some prominent commentators on the “state of political psychology, ” perhaps wisely, avoid more precise definitions beyond this Venn diagrammatic designation (e.g., Iyengar & McGuire, 1993; Sears, 1987).
In our view, answering the question “What is political psychology?” requires acknowledging that there are really two very different sorts of political psychology. These two types are defined not by substantive, conceptual, or methodological cleavages that exist in the discipline, but rather by the fundamental priorities of the research enterprise. Our goals in this chapter are threefold: (a) to clarify the distinction between the two types of political psychology; (b) to assess the prevalence of each type; and (c) to evaluate the current state of political psychology and its future potential within the framework.