The purpose of this section is to promote Political Psychology in the UK and globally, enabling and empowering citizens with the political skills to meaningfully shape policy, practice and their worlds.
On this page you'll find news, updates, and blog articles specifically relevant to the work and interests of the Political Psychology Section.
Member Network Review
Member Network Review Survey Now openShow content
The BPS is currently running a survey of all members to get your views on our current member network structure, and how it might better serve your needs following the current member network review.
We are interested in hearing from you whichever network you are a part of - or if you aren't currently a member of any. We want to know what is working, what isn't and what changes we can make to enhance your membership.
The survey is open until 8 April, and will only take a few minutes to complete. Have your say and help us to continue building a psychological community which delivers for you.
Political Psychology Bulletin
2021 Spring / Summer BulletinsShow content
2020 Winter BulletinsShow content
Welcome to this Winter issue of the Political Psychology Bulletin!
- Welcome from the chair
- The democratic health of a nation
- Effective public communication during the pandemic
- Covid-19 and a narrative psychology of how the political became personal
- Highlighting the use and effectiveness of culturally appropriate tele-mental health care
- Book review - Critical Social Psychology of Social Class
2020 Autumn BulletinsShow content
Welcome to the Autumn bulletin:
- Editorial - What matters to you in political psychology
- Call for papers - Annual UK Political Psychology Conference
- The Commons Commodification and Psychology – by Steve Flatt Director of Psychological Therapies Unit CIC Liverpool
- The Building Blocks of Compliance – by Jill Ruddock MSc Tunbridge Wells
- Building a better understanding of the electoral system - by Daniel MacInerney MSc
- We need to listen to people we don’t like – Dr Joe MacDonagh Technological University Dublin
- Politics and Analytical Psychology – by Dr Steve Myers Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies University of Essex
- Compassion in psychology – Dr Susie Ackner Chartered Clinical Psychologist
- Book review Political Management - The Dance of Government and Politics Routledge by Jennifer Lees-Marshment
- Upcoming events
- The more the merrier - Joining the Political Psychology section
2020 Summer BulletinsShow content
Welcome to the Summer Bulletins:
- Editorial Is change really happening
- Collective emotions and Covid-19
- Of course I’m going to ask about that - the politics of opposition during a national crisis
- Three fathers - locating George Floyd between equality and elitism in the third wave of decolonisation
- Is disaster so bad
- Be kind to one another - Psychologists and the new normal
- Book review - Making uncertainty work for you
- A critical discursive psychological analysis of leadership speeches during the Covid-19 Pandemic
- The more the merrier - joining the Political Psychology section
2019 BulletinsShow content
Updates from Political Psychology Section
Brexit and Me - symposium at BPS Annual Conference 2019Show content
Political Psychology Section features at the BPS annual conference:
May is a busy month in politics and so it is in political psychology too! The new Political Psychology section presented its symposium called ‘Brexit and Me’ to a packed audience at the BPS annual conference in Harrogate on May Day. Members of the section, presented a symposium which considered the psychological impact of the Brexit process (whether the UK leaves or not) on various communities.
Dr Kesi Mahendran (Open University) started the ball rolling by considering how we might move from polarised public opinion on ‘freedom of movement’ within the European Union to public dialogue. Kesi described her experiences and evidence from two qualitative studies conducted in England, Ireland, Germany, Scotland and Sweden, in which she has been mapping participants’ own degree of mobility along a migration-mobility continuum. Kesi emphasised the implications and importance of moving away from oppositional forms of ‘we/they’ dialogue towards non-oppositional forms of we/they dialogue. Her analysis shows citizens work with a model of the public as having freedom of movement, freedom through movement and freedom from movement.
Ivett Ayodele, completing her MRes in social policy at Salford University, presented her paper on 'Hungarian workers’ experiences and future plans in post-Referendum Britain', which compared themes she elicited in interviews before and after the EU Referendum. Ivett detected a shift in participants’ emphasis from the challenges in seeking upward mobility in the labour market before the vote, to the shock, mistrust and uncertainty which followed. Intriguingly she finished with the current position where a number of participants refused to believe that their erstwhile British neighbours now held different (and negative) views about migrants; rather they chose to believe that their British neighbours were fundamentally good people who had merely been temporarily misled.
Christopher McClelland, completing his BSc (Hons) Psychology and Criminology at Salford and possibly the only undergraduate speaking about their research at the conference, presented his findings from interviews on 'How Brexit is shaping ethno-national identity in Northern Ireland'. Discourses around identity, the border and uncertainty in and around workplaces were perhaps to be expected, but Christopher’s paper also highlighted how people felt they had been overlooked as well as the potentially damaging impact of uncertainty surrounding the ‘Brexit’ process for individuals and communities where a UK-EU land border may materialise.
Professor Peter Bull (York and Salford Universities) spoke about his research into Prime Ministers Questions. His results appeared not only that day on the front page of The Daily Telegraph, but were actually quoted in Parliament by an MP during Prime Ministers Question time just before the symposium began! His research showed that Theresa May was the least likely of Conservative Prime Ministers in the last 45 years to answer a question during media interviews and answered only 11% of questions posed during Prime Ministers Question time in the House of Commons. Peter has highlighted how different techniques of equivocation enable politicians to evade awkward questions; Theresa May’s favoured strategies were ignoring the question or responding to her own rephrased version of it. He considered how such forms of equivocation can result in a lack of political dialogue, creating uncertainty, ambiguity, and a lack of trust.
Professor Richard Kwiatkowski (Cranfield University) rounded off the symposium with his insights based on a 21-year longitudinal study inside Parliament and in this presentation he featured interviews with MPs before and after the Brexit debates. He combined ideas about their voting intentions, the power of party, voter and media pressures, MPs’ anxieties about the outcomes and anticipation of citizens’ and colleagues’ reactions, as well as the impact of the present milieu on cognition, emotion and government. Richard drew parallels with other periods of high emotion, cognitive overload, uncertainty as well as personal and collective threat, including Iraq, the expenses scandal, and the Syrian vote. He considered the impact of these on decision making and optimistically ended with a pleas that psychology might be able to help our politicians, given what they do impacts on all our lives.
Questions and discussions among the eager audience showed that the themes highlighted by the symposium ‘Brexit and Me’ have already had an impact and that psychologists may be well-positioned to do more to help those who feel vulnerable, let down or angry about the Brexit scenario, whichever side of the debate they favour!
The photograph below shows the front page of The Daily Telegraph, featuring Peter Bull’s research, held by symposium chair Ashley Weinberg. Left to right in the image are Ashley, Kesi, Chris and Ivett, Peter and Richard.
First Political Psychology Conference - some reflectionsShow content
Manifest destinies, Brexit identities in flux and how the media draw the battle-lines – the 1st UK Political Psychology Conference
The Institute for Conflict, Cooperaton and Security (ICCS) at the University of Birmingham was host to the first annual UK Political Psychology Conference on 18th December 2018. This inaugurated the newly established BPS Political Psychology Section. The conference arose out of a collaboration between BPS Political Psychology Section, the Political Studies Association and the European Consortium for Political Research. These origins meant the conference benefitted from a variety of disciplinary interests and methodological approaches. With interdisciplinary dialogue a key focus, the conference opened with an interdisciplinary methods workshop. The workshop, chiefly aimed at post-graduates and early career researchers, focused on cognitive mapping, field experiments, experimental design and structural equation modelling.
The delegates then gathered together for the conference keynote. Professor Helen Haste spoke to a rapt audience of delegates about the political psychology of storytelling. Helen Haste started from the premise that if you can change the story you can change the world and examined how 'manifest destinies', hero figures and the norm-creating role of stories all work together to make these changes. Delegates then chose from parallel sessions on human values in the political arena or social identity in an age of European flux. In the afternoon there was another difficult choice between papers on how the media draws the battle-lines in politics or the political psychology of conflict and cooperation.
The conference closed with a timely session on publishing and grant applications in the context of changes to the funding landscape. This final session brought together insights from Professor Matthew Flinders, Professor Helen Haste, Professor Dan Stevens and Dr Tereza Capelos. Together the stimulating mix of innovative research papers, practical methods advice and professional development heralds a promising future for the section.
Political Psychology at the European Association of Work and Organizational PsychologyShow content
At the end of May, two members of our political psychology section were invited to speak at the 19th European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology congress in Turin. Sponsored by the Division of Occupational Psychology’s International Working group, Dr Ashley Weinberg and Dr Madeleine Wyatt were asked to join a symposium examining the global effect of politics on the wellbeing of organisations, alongside presenters Professor Jo Silvester and Dr Ritsa Fotinatos-Ventouratos.
The symposium covered issues such as the impact of Brexit on well-being policies in EU organisations (Dr Weinberg, Professor Cary Cooper and Dr Alexander Antoniou), the complexities of political work undertaken by clerks and professional staff in the British House of Commons (Professor Jo Silvester), the role of feedback in developing female politicians (Dr Elena Dolor, Dr Madeleine Wyatt and Professor Jo Silvester) and the importance of economic transparency for wellbeing at work (Dr Ritsa Fotinatos-Ventouratos, Professor Cary Cooper).
The symposium served to highlight the importance of politics, at national and international levels but also within organisations, for the study of wellbeing at work. It also forged bonds between the Political Psychology Section and our colleagues in the Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) which we look to pursue in the coming months for future collaborative events. There will also be a political psychology themed issue of the DOP’s Work-Life Balance Bulletin out soon.
Featured Articles - April 2020Show content