Political Psychology


The doctoral program in political psychology at SUNY, Stony Brook, begun in 1977, trains students in the application of contemporary psychological theories, concepts, and methods to the study of political behavior. The core faculty, all with full-time appointments in the Political Science Department, consists of scholars with formal training in both political science and psychology. The program relies heavily on traditional areas in social psychology (e.g., the subfields of attitudes, emotion and affect, and group processes), memory and cognition, and decision making. Thus, the program focuses on the content and structure of political beliefs and attitudes, the processing of political information, and the factors that influence political judgments and decisions. Methodologically, the Stony Brook program is decidedly empirical, emphasizing laboratory and field experiments, as well as survey research.



Students electing to specialize in political psychology take a sequence of courses in political psychology, in a second area of specialization (American government or political economy), and in statistics and methodology. The core courses required for the political psychology specialization are "Foundations in Political Psychology" (an introductory seminar providing an overview of the field, with a special emphasis on social and cognitive psychological approaches) and "Experimental Methods and Design" (a methodology course focusing on experimentation). Both of these core courses are taken in the first year in the program. In addition, students are required to take at least four political psychology electives from the seminars listed below:

  • Political Ideology

  • Political Socialization

  • Mass Communication and Political Persuasion

  • Group Influence

  • Political Cognition

  • Elite Decision Making

  • Behavioral Decision Theory

  • Computational Modeling

Students also minor in one of the departments other areas of specialization (American government and political economy), and they are required to take three courses from the minor field. Finally, in addition to the experimental foundations course, rigorous training in statistics and methodology is provided, reflecting the program's empirical orientation. Students are strongly encouraged to take a course in survey design, and they must take a three-course data analysis sequence required of all students in the graduate program. Electives in advanced statistics are also available and recommended.



The program's laboratory and research facilities are excellent, including two major research laboratories that enable faculty and students to design and carry out research on a wide variety of topics. The first facility consists of six computer-based laboratories, used to monitor and record the processing of political information systematically (for example, response latencies and information search patterns).

The second facility consists of media research equipment, small group facilities, and individual interview rooms. Also available are observation rooms of various sizes, some equipped with two-way mirrors, suitable for group interaction studies or other experimentation in group decision making.

The program has instituted a subject pool (much like those widely used in psychology departments), wherein undergraduates have an opportunity to participate in political psychology experimental studies. The subject pool gives undergraduate political science majors experience with the research process and it also serves to facilitate faculty and graduate student research.

The political psychology program sponsors a regular colloquium series, which provides a forum for the presentation of new ideas or early reports of research in progress. In addition, a monograph paper series has been created, which reports the research findings of faculty and graduate students affiliated with the program.

The program's active research culture provides graduate students with an unusually good opportunity for collaboration with the faculty on research projects. Beginning in their first year of study, students typically are actively engaged in research with one or more faculty members. Many students deliver jointly or singly authored papers at professional conferences. Moreover, a majority of graduate students in the program publish papers in major political science journals with the faculty. As a consequence, our students are able to compile highly competitive professional records while completing their doctoral degrees.



The Stony Brook program is unique among the nation's top political psychology programs. The core faculty members are all full-time members of the Political Science Department, rather than adjuncts from other departments and disciplines. A brief description of the core faculty, including background and research interests is provided below.

Stanley Feldman

Professor. Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1978.
Research Interests: American Politics; Political Psychology; Public Opinion; Voting Behavior and Participation; Methodology.

Leonie Huddy

Professor. Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1988.
Research Interests: Political Attitudes; Groups and Politics; Socio-political Gerontology; Women and Politics; Survey Methodology.

Howard Lavine

Associate Professor. Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1994.
Research Interests: Political Psychology; Public Opinion and Political Persuasion; Ambivalence; Authoritarianism; Experimental Methodology.

Lindsey Levitan

Assistant Professor. Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2007.
Research Interests: Social Networks; Attitudes; Prejudice.

Milton Lodge

Distinguished University Professor. Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1967.
Research Interests: Political Psychology; Political Cognition.

Charles Taber

Associate Professor. Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, l991.
Research Interests: Political Psychology; International relations; Foreign policy; Conflict; Computational Modeling (AI).

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