Please see below a list of current MAPP courses, along with short descriptions.
Courses with an * are required:
*PPS 501 Fundamentals of Political Psychology (3 credits) — This course focuses on the interdisciplinary study of political psychology and teaches the tools necessary to evaluate the application of political psychology to political marketing, campaigns, and policy advocacy. It covers both the theoretical foundations underlying research in political psychology as well as foundational and contemporary applications. The course examines topics including personality, emotions, and genetic bases of behavior as well as approaches to the design and interpretation of experimental research.
PPS 502 Cognition and Emotions in Political Thinking (3 credits) — This course focuses on key concepts in cognitive psychology and the scientific study of mental processes. It covers how people acquire, store, transform, use information. Topics may include perception, attention, language, memory, reasoning, problem solving, decision-making, and attributions. The relation between emotions and cognition is also covered.
PPS 503 Prejudices and Politics (3 credits) — This course interrogates various theoretical approaches to intergroup conflict, why stereotypes and prejudice exist, the different forms these attitudes take (e.g., ethnocentrism, racial attitudes), and their implications for politics. The course also introduces students to Social Identity Theory and demonstrates how this theory can elucidate group processes. Moreover, the course covers theoretical arguments for and concrete examples of how prejudice can be reduced and tolerance increased.
*PPS 504 Attitudes and Persuasion (3 credits) — This course focuses on the individual and contextual factors responsible for changes in beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. The course first covers the concept of attitudes and their measurement before examining in depth various theoretical approaches that explain how people come to change their attitudes. It also covers meta-cognitive as well as implicit factors in persuasion. The course ends with a more applied look at persuasion, focusing on how persuasive messages can be crafted.
PPS 505 Biopolitics (3 credits) — This course builds a foundational understanding of biological, evolutionary, genetic, and neurobiological perspectives in political psychology. It draws on these perspectives to explain political attitudes and behavior, considering literature on non-human animals, developmental psychology, personality, psychophysiology, neurobiology, genetics, hormones, disgust sensitivity, and mating.
*PPS 506 Experimental Design (3 credits) — This course focuses on the experimental paradigm that permeates political psychology research. Students are introduced to the logic of experimentation and learn how to design and evaluate experimental studies. The course focuses on a variety of different experimental designs, highlighting the various benefits and drawbacks of laboratory experiments, survey experiments, and field experiments. Readings combine both theoretical and methodological pieces on the design, analysis, and interpretation of experiments with empirical applications.
PPS 511 Public Opinion (3 credits) — This course provides an advanced examination of the political opinions of citizens. It covers how citizens structure their opinions and what factors can cause these opinions to change. In so doing, the course also evaluates various theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches used to study public opinion. Topics include political knowledge, ideology, partisanship, and values. Moreover, the course will provide insight into how these factors shape people’s evaluation of government and how individual-level opinions are aggregated to produce public opinion.
PPS 512 Political Polarization (3 credits) — This course is an advanced exploration of the concept of political polarization from a political psychology perspective. The course introduces the concept of political polarization and provides an overview of recent trends in polarization in the U.S., while covering debates such as whether polarization has increased over time, whether Americans are polarized around issues or social identities, and how value divergence can cultural conflict. It also explores how the media and other external factors can affect citizens in ways that can either fuel or attenuate polarization.
PPS 513 Elite Decision Making (3 credits) — This course provides a comprehensive examination of political psychology approaches to understanding and evaluating elite decision-making. Students are introduced to paradigms for analyzing elites’ decisions that focus on the role of personality, leadership styles, and prospect theory among others. The course also focuses on covering frameworks that students can apply to systematically study how elite actors will make decisions on the domestic and international stage. It combines conceptual readings explaining these approaches with applied readings that analyze the decision-making processes of elites through a range of case studies.
PPS 514 Campaigns and Elections (3 credits) — This course provides a political psychology perspective on campaigns and elections. Topics include the effect of election rules, campaigns, social networks, and the media on turnout and vote choice. Students engage with research that addresses these topics through psychological lenses focusing on the role of emotions, negativity, persuasion, and learning. The course combines theoretical literature with applied papers leveraging a variety of experiments conducted in campaign contexts. Implications for campaign organization and management are also discussed.
PPS 515 Advances in Media Effects (3 credits) — This course provides an advanced examination of contemporary research and debates on media effects. It covers the paradigms of agenda- setting, priming, and framing. The course considers key issues in the field of media effects by paying particular attention to the underlying psychological mechanisms through which the media can affect citizens’ attitudes and social judgment. It draws on a variety of examples to demonstrate both the power and limits of media to affect citizens.
*PPS 550 Capstone (3 credits) — This course serves as the required culminating experience of the M.A. in Political Psychology. In this capstone course, students are able to apply the theories, frameworks, and evidence encountered during the course to explore a novel question or contribute to a contemporary research debate. In the process, students will apply a multitude of tools to which they were exposed during the course of the program. Final products are developed individually or in a small group based on consultation with course faculty.
PPS 598 Special Topics: Political Campaign Management (3 credits) — This course will provide an academic, as well as practical, perspective in both the science and art of running electoral campaigns. The course will provide a usable framework for a potential candidate and/or campaign manager, in addition to being of interest to any student of the political campaign process. Guest lectures from experts in the field on a variety of topics will also be a key component in the course. PPS 514 Campaigns and Elections is strongly encouraged as a pre-requisite to this course.
PPS 598 Special Topics: Political Psychology in International Relations (3 credits) — What, if anything, can psychology tell us about international relations? This course begins from the observation that international politics necessarily involves micro-level human interaction. Heads of state, diplomats, members of the military, and the public are central parts of the political realm, and the discipline of psychology is equipped to explain their attitudes and behavior. As such, this course looks at the various ways in which IR scholars have drawn upon psychological theories and research to augment existing theories and lead to new insights into the world of politics.
PPS 598 Special Topics: Introduction to the Psychology of Polling (3 credits) — This course covers the nuts and bolts of polling (e.g., sampling, survey mode, questionnaire construction), the psychology of survey design (e.g., framing effects, heuristics, bandwagon effect), and an introduction to statistical analysis of survey data.
PPS 598 Special Topics: The Psychology of Foreign Policy (3 credits) — This course provides an exploration of the psychological drivers behind foreign policy behavior. Students will examine the cognitive, emotional, and social processes that influence how political leaders perceive international events, formulate foreign policies, and engage with other states on the global stage. By analyzing case studies and relevant research, students will develop a nuanced understanding of the intersection between human psychology and foreign policy outcomes. This course aims to equip students with advanced analytical skills to assess, predict, and interpret the behavior of states in complex geopolitical contexts.
PPS 598 Special Topics: The Politics and Psychology of Fake News and Misinformation (3 credits) — This course analyzes the dynamics of fake news and misinformation in social and political life. From misinformation to conspiracy theories, how can we characterize fake news and misinformation, why does it seem to spread so widely and rapidly, and what are the ramifications for politics?