Political psychology Research Seminar

6th June 2023, 12-1pm (online)

The PSA's Political Psychology group is launching a new programme of research seminars, providing a forum for discussion of ongoing research in political psychology. For the first seminar, Matthew Barnfield and Rob Johns from Essex University will be talking about ‘Hope, Optimism, and Expectations in Politics’.

The seminar will be held online on Tuesday 6 June, 12-1pm. 

Abstract: In their personal lives, people tend to expect the future to go well. But how do such hopeful and optimistic tendencies manifest in politics? We address this question by exploring the influence of psychological dispositions of hope and optimism on two well-studied forms of beliefs about the political future - prospective evalutions and electoral expectations - in a pre-registered nationally representative survey experiment in the UK (N-1,697). We show that optimism drives positive prospective evaluations, but when it comes to electoral expectations, it is hope that dominates. Partisan differences in expectations are only present at higher levels of trait hope. We show experimentally that polling and expert commentary can reduce this association, by raising the expectations of the unhopeful. Such predictive cues consolidate partisan differences in electoral expectations by overriding individual differences among co-partisans. These findings suggest that perceptions of different types of societal future may have distinct psychological roots, with theoretical implications for poitive, social and cognitive psychology, as well as political science.

The seminar will be held online on Teams. You can register through this link.

If you would like to present your research at a future seminar, please contact Ben Seyd.