The Political Psychology of Groups
This chapter looks at the Political Being in its environment, that is, in the presence of, and as a member of, groups. Groups have a prominent role in politics. Small groups are often given the responsibility of making important political decisions, creating political policies, and generally conducting political business. Larger groups, such as the Senate, also hold a special place in politics and are responsible for larger scale decisions and tasks such as passing legislation. Finally, large groups, such as states and countries, carry with them their own dynamics, especially regarding how they view each other and how they get along. Because so much political behavior is performed by groups, it behooves us to learn more about the basic processes that govern groups. Although groups are comprised of individuals, understanding group behavior cannot be attained from an understanding of individual behavior. Obviously, understanding groups involves an understanding of the individuals who comprise a group, but there are dynamics of groups that cannot be observed from examining individuals alone. Many observers (e.g., Durkheim, 1938/1966; LeBon, 1895/1960) note that individuals often behave quite diﬀerently when they are together than when they are alone. Consequently, although the workings of the Political Being’s mind are still operative, we are interested in the impact of the sociopolitical environment on behavior in this chapter.