Political Science | Political Philosophy
Y490 | 7751 | Braman


In this class we will investigate how psychological theory helps us to
understand how people act (and interact) in the political arena. We
will start with basic concepts including attitudes, behavior and
cognition.  We will discuss what these terms mean and how they
interact to shape individual political experience. We will take some
time to talk about applications of the experimental method to
political phenomena. Focusing on the American political context we
will discuss how citizens form opinions about issues and candidates
and how they may be subject to persuasion by media outlets and
political elites. We will also discuss how elite decision-makers,
including judges and world leaders, structure their decision tasks to
maximize the influence of “expert” knowledge and prevent certain
biases.  We will see that such efforts are not always successful and
discuss what this means in terms of the larger political context in
which they are acting. Finally, we will discuss how people come to
identify as part of a larger “social group,” how they interact based
on those identities and the implications for political phenomena
including racial and ethnic conflict. This class fulfills the
intensive writing requirement.  Students will be required to write
25-35 pages including weekly response papers and a final research
project.