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UNC-Chapel Hill POLI 215 - SYLLABUS

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The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society, and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trustCOURSE REQUIREMENTSPOLI SCI 215 INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL PSYCHOLOGY: A POLITICAL LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVETues/Thurs 12.30-1.45Professor Donald Searing Office Hours: (TBA)[email protected] Spring 2021 Tues: 928 9562 2044 Thurs: 91631614981The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom todiscern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society, and in the next place, to take the most effectualprecautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trustJames MadisonThe virtues about which James Madison speaks are character traits he believed desirable for political leaders. They are motivations and skills that contribute to good government by helping to preserve and promote liberal democratic regimes. Their opposites are civic vices. All these character traits are either psychological or psychologically driven. They thereby provide a pathway to introducing the interdisciplinary subject of political psychology, which uses concepts, theories and findings from the science of psychology to help us understand and explain political life. The principal goal of this course is both normative and empirical. We will draw upon political theory and socialand cognitive psychology to: (a) identify key character traits by which politicians ought reasonably to be judged, (b) investigate their psychological structure and dynamics, (c) explore their origins in pre-career and institutional learning, and (d) examine their consequences for the functions we expect liberal democratic leadersto perform: regime building, governing, accountability and representation. In particular, the course will analyzeambition and power, integrity and public duty, political judgment, skills and handicaps, and the learning of character traits. Note that this is a course in political science, i.e., our goal is not primarily to address theories inpsychology but rather to use theories and concepts from psychology to help explain political thinking and behavior.Jan 19 ORIENTATIONNOTE: To avoid partisan overtones and undertones in this class, I would much prefer to analyze only non-American politicians. Unfortunately, most of the work in political psychology focuses on American politicians, often American Presidents. When we discuss these politicians, therefore, we are going to park our political party preferences outside the classroom door and focus on all these politicians as individual human beings, as psychological actors, not as Republicans, Democrats or anything else connected with partisanship.[Choose Book Chapter or Article][Begin Reading Archer -to be discussed on Feb 23]SUGGESTED READING:Wu, Tim. “What Really Saved the Republic From Trump.” New York Times. Dec. 10, 2020. [UNC Libraries Search].Jan 21GENERAL PERSONALITY TRAITS, POLITICAL CHARACTER TRAITS, SKILLS, VALUES, NORMS AND ROLES We will explore how the concept of “character trait” has been used in political science and how it might best be operationalized for analyses in political psychology. Note that the character traits we propose to study are usually embedded in institutional contexts and activated by situations. To illustrate the application of the trait approach, we will examine several studies of American Presidents. [Choose Book Chapter or Article] LECTURE TOPICSMcCrae and Costa on the Five Factor Theory of PersonalityKey Concepts DistinguishedNorthouse on the trait approach in leadership studiesWinter on personality and trait psychologyASSIGNED READING:McCrae, Robert R. and Paul T. Costa Jr. 2010. “The Five Factor Theory of Personality.” In Oliver P. John and Richard W. Robins (eds). Handbook of Personality (Guilford) 159-79. [Sakai]Northouse, Peter G. 2004. Leadership Theory and Practice (Sage) Chap [2] [Sakai]SUGGESTED READING:Winter, David G. 2011. “Philosopher-King or Polarizing Politician? A Personality Profile of Barack Obama.” Political Psychology.Jan 26, 28CHARACTER TRAITS CONTINUED[Assign Book Chapter or Article] LECTURE TOPICS:Lilienfeld, Watts on Narcissism Brim on The Fame MotiveASSIGNED READING:Northouse, Peter G. 2004. Leadership Theory and Practice (Sage) Chap [3] [Sakai]Simonton, Dean Keith. 2006. “Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance….” Political Psychology, 71 [511-26] [UNC Libraries Search]Lilienfeld and Watts. 2013. Narcissism and Presidents. Psychological Science 24 2379-89 [Sakai]Brimm, Orville. 2009. Look at Me: The Fame Motive from Childhood to Death. (Michigan). Chaps [1,2] [Sakai].Barber, James David. 1992. The Presidential Character. Chap [1] [Sakai]SUGGESTED READING:Mondak, Jeffery J. 2020. “Personality on the Hill: Expert Evaluations of U.S. Senators’ Psychological Traits.” Political Research Quarterly.Dietrich et al. 2012. “Personality and Legislative Politics.” Political Psychology, 33.Mattes, Kyle and Caitlin Milazzo. 2013. Pretty Faces, Marginal Races: Predicting Election Outcomes Using Trait Assessments of British Parliamentary Candidates. Electoral Studies, 34, 177-89.2Feb 02,04POLITICAL CHARACTER TRAITS ILLUSTRATEDBarber, James David. 1992. The Presidential Character (Longman) Chap 5 [Sakai and UNC University Libraries]FILM AND DISCUSSION:Frost/Nixon (2 hrs)AMBITION AND NEEDS FOR POWER, STATUS, ACHIEVEMENTFeb 09,11 THE DESIRE FOR OFFICE: TO BE OR TO DO?Ambition’s core is the desire for high office. Its admirable dimension desires the office primarily to benefit citizens through policies and institutional reforms. This is associated with needs for achievement. Ambition’s undesirable dimension is seeking high office primarily to benefit oneself. This is associated with needs for power and status. Ambition may be rooted in personality dispositions, but it can be modified by the structures of opportunity that politicians encounter in their careers. What types of ambition are evident in the characters inArcher’s novel? And how are these modified by their experiences in their careers? And what role does ambitionplay among the vivid character traits on display in the Frost/Nixon film?LECTURE TOPICSIntroduction to


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