CEPDISC Seminar with Lotte Thomsen

The Core of Political Psychology

Info about event


Monday 29 November 2021,  at 14:00 - 15:30

Speaker: Lotte Thomsen, CEPDISC & Department of Psychology, University of Oslo (UiO)

Title: The Core of Political Psychology 


Politics can be defined as the negotiation of common rules for the distribution of resources, rights and care. SDO—orientations towards group-based dominance and equality— has proven to fundamentally structure political ideology and action. For instance, SDO tracks macro-structural inequality across nations and US states; shapes motivated reasoning for freedom of political speech;  predicts leader fusion which in turn predicts willingness to participate in ethnic persecution and in attacking Congress, should Trump lose the election (measured in 2015); and shares genetic substrate with political attitudes to monopolize territory and resources, as well as with self-serving, morally opportunistic justice sensitivities. Even preverbal infants represent inequality of resources and interpersonal and coalitional dominance; 2-year-olds selectively approach those who prevailed in conflict; and (Norwegian) 3-year-old boys, but not girls, selectively want to affiliate with novel agents who are members of the largest minimal group, mirroring the gendered coalitional dominance motives found among adults. Like dominance and group affiliation, direct reciprocity underlies economic and voting behavior (e.g., in clientism) and may have evolutionary precursors among other species. This begs the question if core cognition and motives for reciprocity, too, manifest in earliest development and form part of the structural core of political psychology. In support of this possibility, and in contrast to previous suggestions that direct positive reciprocity does not emerge until early/middle childhood, I will present first evidence that preverbal infants expect direct reciprocity to govern resource distributions; that 3-year-olds use gratitude as cue for predicting future reciprocal altruism; and that even preverbal infants use ‘proto-gratitude’ to predict future direct reciprocity. Doing political psychology with infants may be a fruitful avenue for identifying its intuitive and natural core

If you are not a CEPDISC Fellow please sign up with maj.carlsen@ps.au.dk