The Psychology of Populism: The Tribal Challenge to Liberal Democracy

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Author(s): Joseph P. Forgas, William D. Crano, Klaus Fiedler

Series: Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology 22

Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2021

ISBN: 9780367523909,9780367523817,9781003057680

 

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.

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