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Moral and Political Psychology - PSY00061H

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Thomas Davies
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

Political polarization, prejudice, mistrust, extremism, and authoritarianism are unfortunately finding themselves at home in the 21st century. In the UK, conversations around Brexit, Scottish Independence, and social inequalities quickly become heated. At the core of these social and political clashes are different viewpoints, vying for the chance to materialise in society.

The module begins by zooming out and considering the simple but difficult question of how do we know what is true? We then dive into the topic of morality for the next few weeks. We consider psychological research on whether there are moral truths in the world, or whether morality is more subjective. We explore and discuss research suggesting that political orientation is related to people’s moral values. We also consider the real-world consequences for those people and animals who fall outside our moral concern.

The next few weeks is dedicated to understanding the psychology of ideology. Ideologies are modern maps which help people make sense of society. They tell us what’s right and wrong, and they change the way we think and how we behave. Political views such as ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’ are examples of ideologies. However, as you know, there are many other modern ideologies at play, including environmentalism, feminism, capitalism, and nationalism. We also consider ideological thinking per se and look at the similarities in how and why people think ideologically – irrespective of the flavour.

Module learning outcomes

  • Discuss the module content in an open, constructive, and polite manner
  • Understand and discuss psychological research and theories of morality
  • Gain an insight into alternative political/ ideological viewpoints
  • Demonstrate awareness of the distinction between morality, ideologies, and truth
  • Consider the benefits and limitations of ideological thinking

Module content

  1. The Philosophy of Science – how do we know what is true?
  2. Theories of moralisation – how do we know what is right and wrong?
  3. Dehumanization and its consequences
  4. Humans and animals – why we think it’s okay to eat pigs but not dogs
  5. Left-wing vs right-wing political differences and similarities
  6. Ideologies, and ideological thinking
  7. Authoritarianism and ideological extremism

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
Moral and Political Psychology
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
Moral and Political Psychology
N/A 100

Module feedback

The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision.

Indicative reading

  • Haslam, N. (2016). Concept creep: Psychology's expanding concepts of harm and pathology. Psychological Inquiry, 27(1), 1-17.
  • Zmigrod, L. (2020). A psychology of ideology: Unpacking the psychological structure of ideological thinking



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.