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Psychology of Political Leadership


This course is interdisciplinary and uses concepts, theories and methodological approaches from psychology to explore political leadership and its many facets. It has three overarching goals. First, it will explore the factors that influence who becomes a political leader. Here the focus will be on how political leaders are chosen and socialized and what their motivations for seeking political office are. Second, this course will seek to understand how contextual factors and character traits affect leadership and decision making with a particular focus on how leaders' personalities and experiences interact with their environment and affect their ability to govern accountably and effectively. Third, it will investigate how leaders relate to the public with a focus on the cognitive basis of this relationship and the role of persuasion.