The Contours of Political Psychology: Situating Research on Political Information Processing

John L. Sullivan, Wendy M. Rahn, Thomas J. Rudolph

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The field of political psychology has a long history and a broad purview. It includes – has always included – a wide diversity of theories, approaches, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and verdicts. This is as true today as it has been true historically. There are, therefore, diverse issues and problems that have received long-standing attention in this interdisciplinary field. Yet, despite these many concerns, it is possible to identify some ebb and flow in the extent to which particular paradigms have characterized different research eras in political psychology.

The purpose of this chapter is threefold. First, we will attempt to provide the reader with a very broad (and hence somewhat cursory) overview of the breadth of concerns that have characterized the modern era of research in political psychology. Second, we will identify what we believe are some central trends in the evolution of “defining work” in this subfield. And, third and most important in the current context, we will locate the research reported in this volume within the diversity and central tendencies of broader issues in political psychology. The work reported in this volume is limited in scope, and we want to identify these limitations explicitly. At the same time, we hope to make it clear that by accepting a narrow purview and bringing to bear the considerable intellectual and scholarly energies of some of the best scholars in the field, considerable payoff in depth of knowledge is possible.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThinking about Political Psychology
EditorsJames H. Kuklinski
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780511510632
ISBN (Print)9780521593779, 9780521114424
StatePublished - 2002


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