The Political Psychology Specialist Group is a multi-disciplinary group established to provide a forum for collaboration, discussion and support for political psychology scholars and practitioners as well as to facilitate the dissemination of political psychology research to relevant political and social institutions and the broader public. We have worked with colleagues in Psychology to twin this group with a sister section that was recently established in the British Psychological Society (BPS). We have close ties with other national and international political psychology groups, as well as practitioners in health care, education and, of course, government and politics.

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Political psychology research seminar, 6th June 2023, 12-1pm (online)

We are holding our first research seminar, in what we hope will become a regular event.

Hope, Optimism and Expectations in Politics
Matthew Barnfield and Rob Johns (Essex)

Abstract: In their personal lives, people tend to expect the future to go well. But how do such hopeful and optimistic tendencies manifest in politics? We address this question by exploring the influence of psychological dispositions of hope and optimism on two well-studied forms of beliefs about the political future - prospective evalutions and electoral expectations - in a pre-registered nationally representative survey experiment in the UK (N-1,697). We show that optimism drives positive prospective evaluations, but when it comes to electoral expectations, it is hope that dominates. Partisan differences in expectations are only present at higher levels of trait hope. We show experimentally that polling and expert commentary can reduce this association, by raising the expectations of the unhopeful. Such predictive cues consolidate partisan differences in electoral expectations by overriding individual differences among co-partisans. These findings suggest that perceptions of different types of societal future may have distinct psychological roots, with theoretical implications for poitive, social and cognitive psychology, as well as political science.

The seminar will be held online on Teams. You can register through this link.

If you would like to present your research at a future seminar, please contact Ben Seyd.

Contact Us

Raynee Gutting

Role: Convenor
Institution: University of Essex

Jac Larner 

Role: Convenor
Institution: Cardiff University

Ben Seyd

Role: Convenor
Institution: University of Kent

Tabitha A. Baker

Role: Convenor 
Institution: Bournemouth University  


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Group Events

Specialist Group event
06 Jun

The PSA's Political Psychology group is launching a new programme of research seminars, providing a forum for discussion of ongoing research in...

6th June 2023, 12-1pm (online)