Turning Political Psychology
ROBERT E. LANE
What would happen if, in addition to using psychological research and theory to explain political outcomes, we also used political psychological theory and research to explain psychological outcomes? Political scientists might say that thereby they forsook their mission, but I do not think this is true. Some psychological outcomes, in fact, represent the specification of what, as political scientists, we have always been interested in. In my opinion, indeed, turning political psychology upside down has the benefit of dealing with what can be called the true ends of our inquiries, instead of the means that traditionally served as the subject of our research. This chapter is an inquiry into the risks and benefits of devoting some of our talents in political psychology to a study of two such psychological outcomes, subjective well-being (SWB) and human development.
What makes political psychology different from other kinds of political science, or, indeed, from most sociology, economics, and anthropology, is its explicit recognition of what the discipline of psychology has to offer. This is not an extension of political science but an essential feature of it. I do not believe it is possible to account for the decisions and behavior of presidents,