Political Psychology Section
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.
While political events continue to astound, there has never been a more critical time to further our understanding of how political processes interact with psychological thoughts, feelings and behaviours at all levels.
It is arguably our most pressing need and Political Psychology is about doing exactly this.
Whether you’re interested in everyday politics in your workplace, community or your home, or indeed in party politics, then this new section aims to reach out to all BPS members, including practitioners, academics and students, in order to promote the exchange ideas, to foster research and collaboration, and to share events with like-minded organisations, such as the UK’s Political Studies Association with whom we have already developed a fruitful relationship.
It is hoped that through the section we can give Political Psychology a basis for critical reflection and a ‘home’ for discussion appealing to all within our discipline. While there has been an International Society for Political Psychology for over 40 years, there has been no national equivalent within the BPS until now.
We aim to facilitate a range of activities and interests for all BPS members, for whom political issues in psychological and other work are of daily importance.
Political psychology is not just about those we recognise as ‘politicians’, but also about the politicians we don’t always recognise – all of us.
We do hope you’ll join.
Cognitive strain in Parliament
Being an MP does not come with a formal job description, and the working realities of our elected politicians are complex.
Understanding Politicians and Political Behaviour
Dr Sharon Coen and colleagues examine the importance of local media and national media in our understanding of political matters and events:
Curran, J., Coen, S., Aalberg, T. and Iyengar, S. (2012) News Content, Media Use, and Current Affairs Knowledge. In J. Curran & T. Aalberg (eds.), How Media Inform Democracy. A Comparative Approach, 81-97. London: Routledge.
Dr Maddy Wyatt and colleagues have worked with political parties and groups to gain a better understanding of what makes politicians tick:
Silvester, J., Wyatt, M. and Randall, R. (2014) Politician personality, Machiavellianism, and political skill as predictors of performance ratings in political roles, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 87(2), 258-279.
Dr Ashley Weinberg has spent 25 years researching mental health in public sector groups – including the well-being of Members of Parliament
Weinberg, A. (2015) A longitudinal study of the impact of changes in the job and the expenses scandal on UK national politicians’ experiences of work, stress and the home-work interface. Parliamentary Affairs, 68 (2), 248-271.
The Psychologist magazine of May 2015 coincided with the General Election and was a special issue on politics with contributions from Sharon Coen, Jo Silvester and Maddy Wyatt. This edited book includes contributions from psychologists across Europe on the social, cognitive and personality factors involved in politicians’ behaviour
Weinberg, A. (ed.) (2012) The Psychology of Politicians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- "Let me now answer, very directly, Marie's question": The impact of quoting members of the public in Prime Minister's Questions. Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 7(1), 56-78.
- Waddle, M., & Bull, P. (2019). Curbing their antagonism: Topics associated with a reduction in personal attacks at Prime Minister’s Questions. Parliamentary Affairs.
- Waddle, M., Bull, P., & Böhnke, J. R. (2019). “He is just the nowhere man of British politics”: Personal attacks in Prime Minister’s Questions. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 38(1), 61-84
- Waddle, M., & Bull, P. (2016). Playing the man, not the ball: Personalisation in political interviews. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 35(4), 412-434.
- Waddle, M., & Bull, P. (2019). David Cameron rudest prime minister at PMQs according to study
Chair: Catherine Lido
Past Chair: Kesi Mahendran
Honorary Secretary: Madeleine Wyatt
Bulletin Editor: Ashley Weinberg
Early Careers Lead: Rozena Nadeem
Social Media and Communications Lead: Antonios Kalentzis
- Gavin Sullivan
- Steve Flatt
- Sarajane Aris
- Roger Paxton
- Daniel Macinerney
- Apply to join the section (students, affiliates, e-subscribers)
- Apply to join the section (graduate, chartered, and in-training members)
Membership of the Political Psychology Section is only open to members of the British Psychological Society.
If you are not a BPS member, you can join the Section at the same time as applying for membership of the society.
Benefits of belonging
- Full access to our website
- Opportunities to influence and take part in the development of the section
- Opportunity to voice your opinion, either at the Section’s AGM and/or by becoming a member of the section’s committee
- Regular updates via our membership announcement e-mail list
The Political Psychology Section uses its membership announcement email list to inform its members of activities and initiatives that are relevant to their interests and to make requests for engagement on topical issues.
By becoming a member of the Section you are automatically added to the announcement list.
To receive these emails you will need to:
- become a member of the Political Psychology Section
- opt into receiving email communication and provide a working email address
These preferences can be updated by logging into your member portal.
If you have any queries, please contact Member Network Services.
To assist us in responding to your query please make sure to include your membership number and quote 'Political Psychology Section announcement email' in the subject line.
The Political Psychology Section relies on a wide range of people getting involved, and the work of the Section is largely achieved through the dedication of unpaid volunteers.
Our volunteers come from a wide range of different backgrounds, whether they be practitioners or academics, or full members or student members, and together form an open and inclusive community.