Suedfeld's Political Psychology Research
In general, political psychology examines various individual factors of political figures (e.g., traits, motives, decision strategies, etc.) and their relation to success or failure in the political sphere. "Political" is interpreted broadly and does not limit analyses to high-level politicians like prime ministers, presidents, and members of parliamentary entities. Theories in political psychology can and have been derived from, and applied to, virtually every situation wherein decisions must be made for the many on the part of a few.
Peter Suedfeld's research into political psychology began with more general research into intra-organizational interactions, group decision-making, leadership styles, and such. These initial contributory avenues of inquiry may be seen in Suedfeld's earliest relevant publications. Currently, Suedfeld's political psychology research looks mainly at leaders or political organizations during times of crisis or other critical decision-making points. Other work examines the public opinions of leaders who have experienced either extreme popularity or criticism, or both at different times.
- War Against Terrorism
- This project looks at changes in the integrative complexity of world leaders prior to 9/11 and up to the end of the Iraq war. There are 3 sub-projects in this group.
- War on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (world leaders)
- War on the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq (world leaders)
- War on Terrorism (USA only)
- Indian-Pakistani Conflicts
- This project is looking at changes in the integrative complexity of Indian and Pakistani leaders (Prime Minister/President, Defense Ministers, External Affairs Ministers and UN Representatives) during conflict and control (no major war) periods.
- Cross-Language Study of Yasser Arafat's Speeches
- This study is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ara Norenzyan, who can read the original Arabic in which Arafat's speeches were written. This study will not only provide an interesting cognitive analysis of the speeches of a long-standing, controversial Middle-Eastern leader, it will also further address the issue of the comparability of integrative complexity scores obtained from original versus translated materials. Past research has found little or no difference, attesting to the universality of the construct.
- Dissonant Alliances
- This study is looking at different psychological aspects of national leaders who have had to make an alliance with another country for pragmatic reasons even though an alliance with that country is contrary to the spirit of one's own. An example is the alliance between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union in order to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II. The plan of the research is to compare private (intra-governmental and personal) documents about such alliances with counterpart materials from alliances between generally compatible governments (e.g., the USA and Great Britain in World War II). In addition, comparisons will be made between the tone of the private records and that of public pronouncements about these controversial political deals.
- South American Liberators
- This study looks at motive imagery and changes in the integrative complexity of South American Liberators, such as José de San Martin, Simon Bolivar, and Bernardo O'Higgins, before, during, and after liberating their countries.
- Vaclav Havel
- The goal of this study is to examine motive imagery and changes in integrative complexity for the first and now former President of the Czech Republic, who is also a distinguished writer and playwright. The study is examining not only changes as a function of political context, but also differences between political and artistic expression.
- Canadian Prime Ministers
- Content and structural analyses are being performed on the speeches of Canadian Prime Ministers whose subsequent reputations vary widely, to see whether reputation is reliably associated with any variable such as integrative complexity, the dominance of a particular type of motive imagery, etc.
- Posthumous Leaders
- This study looks at how the proverb, "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" (Speak no ill of the dead) applies to media treatment of political leaders who die in office, and whether any such effect is a lasting one. Comparisons will examine how the leader's personality and accomplishments were characterized in newspaper and media articles 1 year before, and 1 and 5 years after, death.
- Perceptions of Ethnopolitical Conflict
- Still in the planning stage, this project may involve one or more studies, using scenarios (role-playing) dealing with conflict, prejudice, persecution, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and civil war within nations that contain several ethnic/religious/language groups. The current plan is to look at the variables that people consider relevant in the avoidance or occurrence, course, and termination of violent or nonviolent confrontations, the role of governments in escalating or defusing conflict, the role of third-party intervention (e.g., by the UN), etc.
Last updated: Monday, June 7, 2004
Follow this link to see a complete list of Dr. Suedfeld's relevant publications on this topic.
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About this web-site
This web-site describes the research and other achievements of Dr. Peter Suedfeld, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.
This page describes Dr. Suedfeld's political psychology research. The rest of the site is organized under the following topic headings:
Other research topics: