The Psychology of Populism : The Tribal Challenge to Liberal Democracy book cover
1st Edition

The Psychology of Populism
The Tribal Challenge to Liberal Democracy

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ISBN 9780367523817
February 19, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
392 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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 1 deals with the motivational and emotional factors that attract voters to populist causes, and the human needs and values that populist movements satisfy. Part 2 analyzes the cognitive features of populist appeals, especially their emphasis on simplicity, epistemic certainty and moral absolutism. Part 3 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 4 the propaganda tactics used by populist movements are analysed, including the role of charismatic leadership, authoritarianism, 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.

Table of Contents

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

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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, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award and 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, Fellow of the German Academies of Science and APS and SPSP. 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