chapter  3
28 Pages

Cognition, Social Identity, Emotions, and Attitudes in Political Psychology

This chapter explores how individuals make sense of others and themselves in the context of political issues, choices, and conflict. How do people understand the political world? How do they interpret information and make decisions? How organized are their thoughts? How do emotions affect thoughts and actions in politics? This chapter reflects the thinking and feeling portions of the Political Being’s mind: cognition, emotion, social identity, and attitudes and beliefs. We examine a number of ideas about how people process political information, the psychological techniques and mechanisms used to understand others and the environment in which they live, the importance of the groups to which people belong, and how people regard those groups they do not belong to. In addition, we explore the importance of emotion in politics, as well as in political attitudes. A number of concepts are introduced, including cognition, cognitive categories and schemas, social identity, images, affect and emotion, and attitudes. These concepts are tied to different kinds of political behavior in this chapter and are detailed in the chapters that follow. Once again, the depiction of the Political Being in this chapter highlights the concepts that are covered here, and does so in a way that layers them. Attitudes and cognitive processes are at the top of consciousness: These are things we are well aware of, and they are important in information processing and everyday decision making. Values and social identities are deeper. We have to think harder to figure out how they affect our behavior. Emotions saturate the mind and influence the entire process of deciding how to act politically. In addition, more detail is provided on the us and them portions of the Political Being’s environment.