18th Jena Workshop on intergroup processes June 23rd to June 26th, 2016: “The psychology of political ideology: Insights from intergroup approaches”

EASP medium sized meeting, June 23rd – 26th, 2016

The psychology of political ideology: Insights from intergroup approaches

Political ideas divide people, instigate fierce discussions, and produce mutual biases in public policy construction and evaluation. One basic assumption in political psychology is that ideology is as much a function of content as of psychological dispositions. The main questions are how political content relates to psychological dispositions, and how to explain this relation. Do psychological dispositions filter and constrain political attitudes? Important insights on this question have been made by focusing on the relation between individual differences in the psychological disposition of people (e.g., rigidity, risk aversion) and their susceptibility or even active attraction to particular ideological content (e.g., liberalism, conservatism, and related topics). However, as political ideology is also fundamentally social, not only individual dispositions but also social processes have to be considered, such as group processes, partisanship and identities, and intergroup relations.
In this workshop, we attempt to examine critically research agendas and paradigms as well as currently proposed theories on the psychological basis of ideologies. Here, we pursue questions such as how to conceptualize political ideology (one-, two-, or multiple dimensions and topics) as well as what psychological processes (e.g., cognitive, motivational, or emotional) are the most promising basis of political beliefs. To complement the hitherto emphasis on individual dispositions, we will focus on political ideology through the lenses of intergroup approaches. Are ideologies also shaped by group processes such as group identities and perspectives, ingroup cohesion and transmission biases? Moreover, do ecological factors such as range, distribution and prevalence of political topics play a role? Finally, in recent years, research on individual differences between liberals and conservatives has also been criticized as “politicized psychology” and wishful thinking. Hence, we also like to discuss the merits and shortcomings of politicized and political psychology.

The aim of the EASP medium sized meeting is to bring together researchers who are interested in the tricky relation between political ideology and psychological processes. The meeting aims to stimulate further theorizing and empirical research on political ideology and its psychological underpinnings. We may consider manifold potential psychological susceptibilities underlying political ideology, such as cognitive processes (e.g., memory, cognitive style), motivational processes (e.g., threat-management), moral emotions (e.g., moral foundations, disgust sensitivity), or group processes (e.g., group identities). Moreover, we may discuss the potential of group processes to affect political partisanship, biased perception and perspective divergences as well as their effect on social and political psychological research itself. Here, we will examine in what way an analysis of political ideology as motivated cognition reveals something about the validity of content (e.g., decisions, policy recommendations). Finally, we would like to discuss meta-theoretical questions such as how to do research with politicized agendas of researchers, how to take their potential biases into account, and whether unbiased political psychological theory is possible.

The format of this medium‐size meeting is single‐session, with a strong focus on intensive discussion of unresolved underlying issues reflected in the schedule. We want to highlight that “work-in-progress” is greatly valued, and preferred to summaries of already published data. The meeting will have about 35 participants. A central aim of this conference is to bring together junior and senior researchers. Therefore, we encourage junior researchers to submit presentation proposals. Two participants per paper are welcome (e.g., a PhD student and her/his supervisor). The meeting will take place from June 23rd –26th 2016 at Schloss Oppurg (Germany), a picturesque historical castle close to Jena and Weimar.