1st Edition

The Psychology of Populism The Tribal Challenge to Liberal Democracy

Edited By Joseph P. Forgas, William D. Crano, Klaus Fiedler Copyright 2021
    386 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    386 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    The recent rise of populist politics represent a major challenge for liberal democracies. This important book explores the psychological reasons for the rise of populism, featuring contributions from leading international researchers in the fields of psychology and political science.

    Unlike liberal democracy based on the Enlightenment values of individual freedom, autonomy and rationality, both right-wing and left-wing populism offer collectivist, autocratic formulations reminiscent of the evolutionary history and tribal instincts of our species. The book offers a comprehensive overview of the psychology of populism, covering such phenomena as identity seeking, anger and fear, collective narcissism, grievance, norms, perceptions of powerlessness and deprivation, authoritarianism, nationalism, radicalism, propaganda and persuasion, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and the effects of globalization.

    The book is divided into four parts. Part I deals with the motivational and emotional factors that attract voters to populist causes, and the human needs and values that populist movements satisfy. Part II analyzes the cognitive features of populist appeals, especially their emphasis on simplicity, epistemic certainty and moral absolutism. Part III turns to one of the defining features of populism: its offer of a powerful tribal identity and collectivist ideology that provide meaning and personal significance to its followers. Finally, in Part IV, the propaganda tactics used by populist movements are analysed, including the role of charismatic leadership, authoritarianism, and nationalism and the use of conspiracy narratives and persuasive strategies.

    This is fascinating reading on a highly topical issue. The book will be of interest to students, researchers, and applied professionals in all areas of psychology and the social sciences as a textbook or reference book, and to anyone interested in the global rise of populism.

    Please follow this link for an insightful interview by one of the editors of the book - Joseph P. Forgas: https://www.routledge.com/blog/article/editor-interview-the-psychology-of-populism

    We have also created a short promotional video for the book here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK1BEF8WyMA.

    Preface by Joseph P. Forgas, William D. Crano and Klaus Fiedler

    Chapter 1. The Psychology of Populism: The Tribal Threat to Liberal Democracy. Joseph P. Forgas, University of New South Wales, William Crano, Claremont Graduate University and Klaus Fiedler, University of Heidelberg




    Chapter 2. Populism and the Social Psychology of Grievance. Peter H. Ditto and Cristian G. Rodriguez, University of California, Irvine.

    Chapter 3. Socio-psychological Analysis of the Deterioration of Democracy and the Rise of Authoritarianism: The Role of Needs, Values, and Context. Daniel Bar-Tal and Tamir Magal, Tel Aviv University, Israel

    Chapter 4. Beyond Populism: The Psychology of Status-Seeking and Extreme Political Discontent. Michael Bang Petersen, Mathias Osmundsen & Alexander Bor, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University

    Chapter 5. The Rise of Populism: The Politics of Justice, Anger, and Grievance. George E. Marcus, Williams College

    Chapter 6. Collective Narcissism and the Motivational Underpinnings of the Populist Backlash. Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, Dorottya Lantos and Oliver Keenan Goldsmiths, University of London



    Chapter 7. Psychological Perversities and Populism. Joachim I. Krueger, Brown University, USA and David J. Grüning, University of Mannheim, Germany

    Chapter 8. Overconfidence in Radical Politics. Jan-Willem van Prooijen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    Chapter 9. Why Populism Attracts: On the Allure of Certainty and Dignity. Arie W. Kruglanski, Erica Molinario, university of Maryland, and Gilda Sensales, Sapienza University of Rome.

    Chapter 10. A Non-Populist Perspective on Populism in Psychological Science. Klaus Fiedler, Heidelberg University.



    Chapter 11. Self-Uncertainty and Populism: Why we Endorse Populist Ideologies, Identify with Populist Groups, and Support Populist Leaders Michael A. Hogg, Claremont Graduate University, Aarhus University, and Oluf Gøtzsche-Astrup, Aarhus university, Denmak.

    Chapter 12. When Populism Triumphs: From Democracy to Autocracy. Joseph P. Forgas, University of New South Wales, Sydney and Dorottya Lantos, Goldsmiths, University of London

    Chapter 13. Populism in Power: The tribal Challenge. Péter Krekó, Eotvos Lorand University of Budapest, and Johns Hopkins University, USA.

    Chapter 14. The Rise of Populism in the USA: Nationalism, Race, and American Party Politics Leonie Huddy and Alessandro Del Ponte, Stoney Brook University, USA

    Chapter 15. Threat, Tightness, and the Evolutionary Appeal of Populist Leaders. Michele J. Gelfand and Rebecca Lorente, University of Maryland, College Park, USA.



    Chapter 16. Social Psychological Contributions to the Study of Populism: Minority Influence and Leadership Processes in the Rise and Fall of Populist Movements William D. Crano, Claremont Graduate University and Amber M. Gaffney, Humboldt State University

    Chapter 17. Value Framing and Support for Populist Propaganda. Joel Cooper and Joseph Avery, Princeton University

    Chapter 18. Rapid social change and the emergence of populism. Robin R. Vallacher and Eli Fennell, Florida Atlantic University

    Chapter 19. Authoritarianism, Education, and Support for Right-Wing Populism. Stanley Feldman, Department of Political Science, Stony Brook University


    Joseph P. Forgas is Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales. His research focuses on affective influences on social cognition and behavior. For his work, he received the Order of Australia and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, and he has been elected Fellow of the Australian and Hungarian Academies of Science.

    William D. Crano is Oskamp professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University. He was Liaison Scientist for the US Office of Naval Research, NATO Senior Scientist, and Fulbright Senior Scholar. His research focuses on attitude development and attitude change and their applications.

    Klaus Fiedler is Professor of Psychology at the University of Heidelberg and Fellow of the German Academies of Science, the Association for Psychological Sciences, and Society for Personality and Social Psychology. His research focuses on social cognition, language, judgments, and decision making. He received several awards, including the Leibniz Award, and he is on the editorial boards of leading journals.

    "What more timely task for psychological science than to expose the roots and fruits of today’s growing tribalism (of both left and right) and the support for autocratic leaders. Kudos to this global team of scholars for revealing the emotions, the thinking, and the collectivist energy that fuel populism. A much-needed resource for interested students of psychology, sociology, and political science—and for political pundits and leaders." — David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College

    "This outstanding and very timely book explores the psychological factors behind the recent rise of radical populist movements. Leading international scholars analyze the effects of motivational, emotional and cognitive factors in populist appeals both on the left and on the right, with often surprising results. Issues of identity, grievance, insecurity, nationalism, xenophobia, tribalism and uncertainty avoidance receive special consideration. This is must reading for anyone who cares about the world today, and especially for students, researchers and practitioners in the social and behavioral sciences" — Roy Baumeister, Co-author of the ‘Power of Bad’, Professor of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia

    "Forgas, Crano and Fiedler have pulled together an amazing set of chapters from an international cast of interdisciplinary scholars to address a topic that could not be more timely and important to the survival of liberal democracies world-wide. The chapters yield thought-provoking analyses of what populists want, what its origins are, how it produces tribalism, and why it appeals to both the political right and left. Readers will achieve a comprehensive and essential understanding of a global movement that is affecting everyone’s lives." — Richard E. Petty, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA