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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Report on EASP Medium-size Meeting: The Psychology of Political Ideology: Insights from Intergroup Approaches

22.09.2016, by Sibylle Classen in meeting report

Schloss Oppurg (Germany), June 23-26, 2016

Oppurg_2016_1.jpg in total, 3 pictures

Funded by EASP and Friedrich Schiller University, Jena.

The EASP medium-sized meeting „The psychology of political ideology“ took place from June 23rd to June 26th at Schloss Oppurg (Germany). In total 27 researchers (16 are EASP members) from 6 countries joined the meeting. The aim of the workshop was to bring together researchers who are interested in the tricky relation between political ideology and psychological processes, therewith stimulating further theorizing and empirical research on political ideology and its psychological underpinnings.

As invited keynote speakers Leonie Huddy (Stony Brook University, U.S.) and John Hibbing (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, U.S.) joined the meeting. John Hibbing gave a lecture on deep and generic biological and psychological differences between those on the political left and those on the political right. In her presentation Leonie Huddy talked about the interplay between empathy and ideology, shedding light on the ideological divide in support of government social welfare policy in the United States. Therewith, both keynote speakers gave insight into how psychological dispositions filter and constrain political attitudes.

The hitherto emphasis on individual differences between liberals and conservatives was complemented by various talks that focused on political ideology through the lenses of intergroup approaches. Mark Brandt for instance demonstrated that both political conservatives and political liberals, are intolerant and prejudiced toward those holding different worldviews (i.e. liberals vs. conservative worldviews, respectively). In a similar vein, Julia Elad-Strenger presented data, showing that both conservatives and liberals judged moral violations against their in-group as more immoral than violations against their out-group (across all moral foundations proposed by Haidt, Graham, & Joseph, 2009).
Moreover the question, how deep disagreements and polarization between opposing political camps can be dealt with was revisited frequently during the workshop. John Hibbing for isntance emphasized that openly recognizing the existence of fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives might pave the way the way for less polarized and more functional political debates. Alternatively, Silke Eschert presented data demonstrating that intergroup respect can reduce biased responses of political opponents.

Overall, during the workshop many high-quality empirical projects as well as theoretically founded positions were presented. The workshop was marked by new pioneering perspectives and the social and political relevance of the topic. Especially the workshop character, which allowed intensive discussions of all presentations has contributed to the success of the event. The positive atmosphere was facilitated by the selected location in Oppurg, which invited for intensive exchanges even after the end of the presentations.

Jutta Proch, University of Jena (Germany)