STV4317 – Psychological Foundations of Political Decision-Making

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course introduces students to approaches of political behavior and attitudes grounded in psychology, presenting an interdisciplinary approach to the study of political psychology.

Rather than focusing on ideology, attitudes, or some other prevalent outcome of interest in political science, the aim of the course is to focus on the mechanisms of human decision making relevant for a broad set of political phenomena, from public opinion to political violence. 

The common thread is mapping how various individual differences (and interactions with political stimulus) in terms of cognition and reasoning translate into political judgments.

We will discuss the role of personality traits, emotion, heuristics, and prejudice among others, linking these to social psychological and neurobiological research traditions.

The course is reading and discussion based, with no prior knowledge of psychology required.

Learning outcome


Participants will

  • acquire in depth knowledge what political psychology is, how it evolved, and how it contributes to our understanding of political decision-making
  • be exposed to and learn about both classic and novel psychological approaches to political decision-making
  • acquire specific and detailed knowledge related to belief systems, information processing, cognition, and group interactions (among others) that underlie social and political co-existence and dynamics


Participants will

  • be able to critically evaluate cutting edge research on political psychology using a wide array of different methodological approaches (develop analytical reasoning)
  • be able to incorporate novel approaches towards political decision-making into the existing stream of literature, independent of their specific subfield (political behavior, public opinion, international relations, etc)
  • be able to link current political and campaign events to the psychological theories of electoral behavior and better understand these Developments


  • Given the focus on critical reading, participants will develop and enhance their capabilities of building pertinent literature reviews and an original theoretical framework
  • Given the structure of the meetings (lecture, discussion, and presentation), participants will enhance their capabilities of presentation, academic dialog, and offering feedback
  • Given the structure of the meetings and the evaluation methods, participants will be able to apply the covered theories and empirical approaches to new topics, contributing with an original research to their own sub-field (or research interests)


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Apply for guest student status if you are admitted to another Master's programme.

For incoming students

All Master's courses in Political Science must be registered manually by the Department, they will not appear in Studentweb. Contact your international coordinator at UiO.


Recommended previous knowledge

Bachelor's degree in Political Science or equivalent.


The course runs for five weeks with two meetings held each week. These meetings will be a mixture of:

  • lecture
  • instructor lead discussion
  • student lead discussions

Accordingly, in-class activity presupposes that participants read the required readings.


Portfolio examination.

The portfolio consists of:

  • three short reaction papers due before class (500-750 words each)
  • one final paper (3000-4000 words)

Feedback is offered on the reaction papers after each submission and based on request for the final paper. No resubmission of the papers. The final paper will be given more weight in the final grading. Formal requirements for submission of the final paper.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Spring 2018

This course is not given on a regular basis


Spring 2018

This course is not given on a regular basis

Teaching language