POLITICAL BEHAVIOR
An Inter-disciplinary Study
POLITICAL BEHAVIOR



Politics in micro and macro levels of
social life
Individual strategies for cooperation,
conflict resolution, pursuing interests,
even strategies towards family
members and relatives
As the social surrounding grows
bigger, individuals’ choices, attitudes
and behaviors become more “political”
in its true meaning
THE INDIVIDUAL


The political orientations, selfidentifications, ideals, principles and
ideologies of the individual towards
the social surrounding constitute an
important theme of our subject
(political behavior).
The discipline of political psychology
THE GROUP


Individual’s self-identification with a
political group via membership to or
orientation (indirect support...etc)
towards a political party, political
organization or movement.
The discipline of political sociology
WHEN DISCIPLINES COINCIDE


The political choices and behaviors of
the individual may not always
present a stable and continuous
character
May go through changes,
developments and transformations in
time depending on many different
situations and factors.
WHEN DISCIPLINES COINCIDE

Apart from these, the political
behavior of the individual may
present a double or multi-character
way
DETERMINANTS OF POLITICAL
BEHAVIOR

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The family
Family traditions in politics
The orientation and education by the
family elders
Charism of a family elder who is
taken by the child as a model or idol
Another interdisciplinary contribution
in terms of a ne problematic: the
genetics of political behavior.
MORE BIOLOGY, MORE
SOCIOLOGY

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Age groups and differing intensivities
in the political sphere
Youth and popular culture
Aged people and political
participation as a citizenship duty
The gender side
FACTORS WITHIN THE SOCIAL
SURROUNDING


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Education sphere: teachers and
school-mates as political orientators
Class belonging and political
behavior
Mass media and public opinion
The neighborhood effect
FACTORS WITHIN THE SOCIAL
SURROUNDING


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Ethnicity, ethnic identities, racism,
xenophobia
Crime, terror and prejudicial
behavior
Immigrants and political behavior
Religious affiliation
Kinship ties and political behavior
Clientalism and politics
POLITICAL FACTORS

Leader charism and political choice

Political propaganda and its influence
MOST VISIBLE MEASUREMENT
OF POLITICAL BEHAVIOR

Elections and voting

Election campaigns

Electoral Systems
PART I
THE INFLUENCE OF GENETICS
ON POLITICAL ORIENTATION
AND BEHAVIOR
GENETICS&SOCIAL SCIENCES


The increase in the use of genetic
explanations for human characteristics
and conditions over the last few
decades
The academic search for the influence
of genetic factors to explain the
differences and varieties in humans’
psychological and behavioral
characteristics such as violence,
tolerance, intelligence and sexual
orientation (straight&gay)
MAIN PROBLEMATICS

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Can people be born with political
predispositions?
Does political orientation have a
hereditary characteristic?
Is it genes or the early childhood
experiences within the family which
are more influential on the
development of political attitudes?
MAIN PROBLEMATICS
Which factor is the most influential
one on political orientation:


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Genes?
Socialisation within the family?
or the social environment? (friends,
education, business environment...)
THE NATURE vs. NURTURE
DEBATE


Recent studies claiming that genetics is
highly influential on the formation of
political orientations, attitudes and
behavior
Academic response to these studies
and claims, emphasizing the
importance of the environment
(political attitudes as learned elements,
rather than genetically transmitted
ones)
A TURNING POINT WITHIN OUR
SUBJECT


The Bell Curve, Richard Herrnstein
and Charles Murray (1994)
The authors argued that intelligence
largely determined success in life,
and intelligence was largely genetic
in origin.
THE BELL CURVE

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The authors also argued that IQs of Black
Americans were lower on average than
IQs of the Whites.
So, differences in life chances between
Blacks and Whites were driven by genes,
with intelligence as the mediating factor
Authors even recommended the welfare
and reproductive policies of the US be
changed in order to decrease the number
of children born to lower class (and lower
IQ) women
THE BELL CURVE


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The book led to great debates among
academics, media and even politicians,
either supporting or condemning these
propositions
A social-Darwinist approach
Those who are in favour of such an
approach where survival of the fittest is
welcomed, tend to be conservatives in
ideological terms (Hofstadter, 1944)
THE CONSERVATIVE&LIBERAL
DEBATE


Does political ideology play a role in
determining how people feel about
genetic explanations for human
characteristics?
Do conservative and liberal people
have different attitudes towards the
genetic explanations of human
characteristics?
ASSUMPTIONS


Conservatives are more likely to
endorse genetic explanations for
human characteristics related to
socioeconomic inequality
Liberals are more likely to endorse
environmental explanations for those
characteristics
ASSUMPTIONS ON
CONSERVATIVES
The idea of genetic influence on human
characteristics is in accordance with the
conservative principles
 Historical background:
The Feudal and Monarchic Ages: Monarchs
and the nobility with an hereditary
character
No social mobility between seperate
classes and life-long membership to the
class one is born into

ASSUMPTIONS ON
CONSERVATIVES

Theological Background:
Middle-Age scolastical thought:
Accepting the consequences of your
destiny which is labeled on you even
before birth and not challenging the
conditions brought forth by this
destiny (God’s Plan)
ASSUMPTIONS ON THE
LIBERALS


Liberal Principles: equality, humans
as valuable beings, freedom of
choice
It is the social environment that
influences the attitudes and
behaviors of an individual, regarding
the fact that he/she is free make the
choices that is most fit for him/her
ONE EXCEPTION


Do genes have an influence on determining
sexual orientation?
Conservatives are more likely to reject the
role of genes and instead to favor the
influence of the environment. Because,
conservative thought can not allow the
possibility that God created human beings in
those sexual orientations such as gays and
lesbians (the Creator would not create people
with such defections  , rather people choose
to become homosexual under the influence of
environmental factors)
THE INFLUENCE OF IDEOLOGY


The responses of people towards
genetical explanations of human
nature change according to different
ideological orientations
This situation is closely linked to the
conservative/liberal conceptions of
state intervention on certain grounds
IDEOLOGY AND STATE
INTERVENTION- The US MODEL


Political conservatism in the US is
associated with a desire for small
government and a lcak of government
intervention in the lives of the citizens
WHEREAS
Political liberalism in the US is associated
with a desire for government intervention
to adress societal problems (poverty,
immigrant policy, welfare state
policies...etc)
CONSERVATIVE ATTITUDE

If socio-economic differences are
primarily driven by inequalities of
genetic endowment, then
government policies and programs
would not be effective to remedy
them. So, support for a small, limited
government (conservatism) is the
most practical position
CONSERVATIVE ATTITUDE

American Conservatives (as well as
those in Western Europe) criticise
most welfare policies of the state as
of being in the advantage of the
immigrants, minorities, people of
lower classes...etc. So, financial
funding of these policies is a burden
on the true! citizens of the country
LIBERAL ATTITUDE


Welfare policies should exist to protect
the disadvantaged masses in order to
remedy inequalities of opportunities
and access to public services. State
intervention is welcomed by the
American liberals on this issue.
If socio-economic inequalities result
from environmental factors, then
environmental support such as
education and social aids would help to
remedy these inequalities
POLITICAL TRADITION
Many theorists (Rousseau,Marx...) argued
that government has a moral obligation to
remedy systematic inequalities brought
about by societal forces.
 Others like Plato, Aristotle and E. Burke
argued that the inequalities created by
nature (God) should be allowed to
flourish, not be got rid of
(the underlying principle of natural
selection)

EXCEPTION OF SEXUAL
ORIENTATION MATTER


Conservatives in favour of a
government control on homosexual
orientations
Liberals in favour of a limited
government staying out of the
citizens’ bedrooms 
POLITICAL SOCIALISATION


Leaving behind the genetic side of
the story, an analysis of the process
namely “political socialisation” is
necessary for determining the factors
influential on the formation of
political behaviors of the individuals
Man is both a social animal and a
political animal
POLITICAL SOCIALISATION

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The process of adopting the political
beliefs, values and attitudes
The environment as a tutor
Life-long learning: gaining political
knowledge and experience at any
age
A multi-level process
Different factors and conditions at
each level
CHILDHOOD PERIOD
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The development of a selfconsciousness
The development of personality
Development of intelligence
Development of certain attitudes and
reactions both at emotional and
cognitive sides, towards different
conditions
TEENHOOD PERIOD

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A transitionary period from childhood
to adulthood
Pyschological, biological and social
changes
A process whereby the individuals’
social, cognitive and political
development is carried out on the
road to adulthood
TEENHOOD PERIOD

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The ego-centric condition of teens
Aiming to ensure the acceptance of
their beliefs, ideas or judgements by
others, mostly via debates or
arguements
Ups & downs: the inconsistency in
supporting ideals and beliefs
The long-run outcome of teen egocentrism: idealism
TEENHOOD SOCIALISATION


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The ultimate function of socialisation
is to ensure the adoption of social
roles consistent with the social
norms
The transmission of social norms,
values and beliefs
Four different possible reactions of
teens towards this transmission
process:
FIRST TYPE OF REACTION

The teen adopts the cultural patterns
transmitted from the social
environment and becomes an
obedient and adaptable member of
the society
SECOND TYPE OF REACTION

The teen challenges all cultural effects
from the social environment. Seeks new
values and aims. Shows disloyalty towards
the agents of authority or status quo:
parents, teachers...etc
Such teens are more likely to become
influenced by non-mainstream or radical
political ideologies
THIRD TYPE OF REACTION

The teen shows little or no interest in
the cultural transmissions from the
social environment. Can not fully
comprehend the common values and
aims shared by the members of
society. Dislikes the social order, but
also finds him/herself too weak to
alter or cure the social order. Thus
mostly develops an anti-social or
passive-defensive personality
FOURTH TYPE OF REACTION

The teen establishes realist,
constructive and positive realionships
and makes rational choices on
adapting the new knowledge
acquired from the social
environment, thus becomes a “model
citizen”
CONFLICTS WITH PARENTS

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In search of his/her own self, the teen is
generally motivated towards being freed
from the influence of the parents and this
generally leads to conflictual situations
This conflictual attitude may also be
directed towards elder members of the
extended family,teachers, neighbors...
The individualisation of the teen:
becoming a personality
THE DILEMMA OF TEEN
SOCIALISATION

The teen, while aiming to acquire
social acceptance and admiration by
developing an unique identity and, at
the same time, by being integrated
to the bundle of norms, values and
beliefs dominant in the social
environment
THE IDOL FACTOR

Patterns of roles, attitudes and
beliefs of an idol or model, mostly an
elder within the social environment
(a relative, a neighbor, a teacher...),
being adopted by the teen during the
process of developing a personality,
and the process of political
socialisation and orientation as well
POLITICAL SOCIALISATION


The individual establishes emotional
and cognitive relations with the
political structure via elements such
as national flag,state, nation...etc
during childhood
These relationships are based on
mostly elementary and material
systems of thought
POLITICAL SOCIALISATION


During teenhood, the ability to think
abstractly is gained. So, the teen can
from now on perceive political
matters not only on material, but
also presumptive grounds.
Combining the theoretical outcomes
of both material and abstract
thought, the teen will find his/her
place within the political system
POLITICAL SOCIALISATION


Life-long learning in the political
arena: in addition to the family an
school, new sources of political
knowledge will be available to the
teen: friends, NGOs, means of mass
communication...etc.
This increase at the cognitive level of
the teen will contribute to the
development of political beliefs and
attitudes
POLITICAL SOCIALISATION

The tendency of teens towards nonmainstream or radical political
movements generally depends on
personal and social motives:
developing a self-identity and the
social acceptance and admiration
gained by means of performing the
social roles assigned by this identity.
ADULTHOOD PERIOD
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Age factor
New social roles and statues such as being
married, having a job, having children...
Another change of roles in terms of
socialisation: the adult, while he/she was
a socialised element, turns into a
socialising factor for the children,
youth...etc in the new social environments
RE-SOCIALISATION

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Another type of socialisation mostly
observed since the early periods of
adulthood
Transformations in terms of belief,
ideological orientation, attitudes...etc
which may alter the previously dominant
factors of political behavior due to the
relationships, experiences and knowledge
established and gained during adulthood
RE-SOCIALISATION
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While the society influences the individual
in terms of gaining these beliefs,
attitudes...,the individual also influences
the society in a similar way
But, it is mostly a dynamic process, not a
stable one, changing according to the
environment
Traditional vs. Modern societies
(Duverger)
THE DEVELOPMENT OF
POLITICAL BEHAVIOR

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According to Rosenberg, individuals
go through a three-dimensional
development process:
Contiguous
Linear
Systematic
CHANGING SOCIAL
CONDITIONS DURING
ADULTHOOD
•
•
Changing social conditions and the
adoption of new social roles may
alter the determinants of political
behavior and lead to transformations
Idealism vs. Realism
INSTITUTIONS OF POLITICAL
SOCIALISATON


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The family as the primary institution
The monopoly of the family in
determining the early tendencies
towards political orientation (both at
emotional and cognitive levels)
First impressions of the child on
political figures and matters are
developed within the family
environment
THE FAMILY

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Direct influence of the family (direct
political socialisation)
Indirect influence of the family
(indirect political socialisation)
Transmission of political attitudes,
ideologies, party identification and
class consciousness
Family traditions in politics
THE ATTITUDES OF THE
PARENTS

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Parents applying authoritarian or
democratic ways of raising their
children
Differing influences and outcomes of
differing raising methods
Idols or models within the family and
political orientation
THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

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Teachers as new symbols of
authority outside the family
environment
School mates
Cognitive developments during
education (accumulation of
knowledge)
School as an ideological state
apparatus
MASS COMMUNICATION MEANS
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Radio, TV, newspapers, internet...
Mass media as cognitive sources of
political behavior
Social roles presented via
media,especially TV
Media as a means of political
propaganda
THE FRIENDS FACTOR

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Friendship ties and relations within
friend groups constituting an
environment whereby determinants
of political behavior are influenced,
altered and developed
Friends both as cognitive and
emotional sources
THE COMMUNITY EFFECT


Various communities we belong to or
feel a belonging to
Variety of communities: where and
whom we work, live, socialize and
worship...(city community, church
community, work community...)
SENSE OF COMMUNITY


A feeling that members have a belonging,
a feeling that members matter to one
another and to the group, and a shared
faith that members’ needs will be met
through their commitment together
Sense of community changes from
individual to individual, as well as from
group to group (diversity of groups and
changing levels of attachment within
communities)
COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL
BEHAVIOR
Social interactions within the
community play an important role in
determining our political choices and
behavior.
 There are two types of political
behavior influenced by community
interactions:
Political discussion
Voting behavior

POLITICAL DISCUSSION

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Political discussion as a way of
socialisation
Political discussion as a social interaction
which provides information about political
matters
Observing and communicating with other
members of the community may influence
political decisions
Political discussion as a by-product of
social interaction
COMMUNITY and VOTING

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Information gained via community
interaction influencing voting
behavior
Collective political behavior
developed within the community due
to common interests,goals...
The communal leader factor
Politicised communities/political
communities/political identities
COMMUNITY and VOTING

Changing voting behavior due to
different types of elections:
General elections
Local elections
Elections on communal affairs
PARTY IDENTIFICATION

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Identifying oneself via membership
or support to any political party
The party becoming a symbolizer or
determinant of political identity
The party as a means of socialisation
The party as a means of collective
action and group consciousness
Partisanship: extreme form of party
identification
PARTY IDENTIFICATION


According to the general framework
of sociology, social characteristics
(class,ethnicity,gender,race…)
anchor political preferences
The Marxist view of party
identification based on class
consciousness
THE AMERICAN VOTER


Published in 1960 by Angus
Campbell, Philip Converse, Warren
Miller and Donald Stokes, it was the
first comprehensive study on party
identification.
It proposed a social-psychological
thery of party identification.
THE AMERICAN VOTER



Party identification is a long-term
psychological attachment to a party.
It develops early in one’s life and is
influenced by institutions of political
socialisation such as the family
Over time, this feeling of attachment
turns into an emotional and mostly
stable one.
THE AMERICAN VOTER


Since party identification influences
people’s evaluations of political
issues,candidates and political
events, it plays a fundamental role in
their choice of vote.
Party identification is stable except
when large-scale political events or
stressful conditions such as
depressions occur (The 2001
economic depression in Turkey)
RESPONSES TO THE
AMERICAN VOTER



The instrumental view of party
identification:
Party attachment is an information
shortcut that is continually and
updated and adjusted based on
rational evaluation (Bartels, Franklin
and Jackson)
The influence of rational choice is
stressed when compared to
emotional attachments
THE INDIVIDUAL
RATIONALITY FRAMEWORK

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The economic concept of utility
maximization
Adaptation of this concept to party
identification
The assumption that all individuals
can behave and choose rationally
RATIONAL VOTERS

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A rational person:
1) Can always make a decision when
confronted with alternatives
2) Ranks all the alternatives
according to preference, inferiority…
3) Always chooses from among the
possible alternatives
4) Always makes the same choices
when confronted with the same
alternatives
SPATIAL MODEL




Developed by Anthony Downs
Political parties lure voters on an
ideological continuum (left-right)
Issue positions on this continuum placed
by the parties or candidates are
considered by voters
A rational voter chooses by calculating
which candidate’s or party’s issue position
is closest to his ideal point of utility on the
ideological continuum
SPATIAL MODEL


Comparisons of utility
Parties’ over-time ratings (evaluation
of past activities and policies)
VALENCE ISSUES MODEL



Developed by Donald Stokes
Valence issues involve comparative
judgements about party performance
in certain areas (economy, human
rights…etc)
Changing perception of valence
issues from individual to individual is
an important factor in determining
partisanship and voting behavior
REWARD-PUNISHMENT
MODEL


Developed by V.O. Key
Voters either rewarding or punishing
their party in the elections due to
their satisfaction with the party’s
policies and past activities
ISSUE PRIORITY MODEL


Parties developing policy agendas
over certain issues and even claim
issue ownership
This issue ownership becomes widely
recognized by voters and they vote
according to their issue priorities
ECONOMIC EVALUATION
MODELS

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Voters’ evaluation of economic
conditions
Egocentric considerations /
sociotropic ones
Self interested utility maximizing
individuals/ voters interested in the
welfare of the society as a whole
Past/future-oriented economic
evaluations
RACE, ETHNICITY AND
POLITICAL BEHAVIOR


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Ethnic identities playing an important
role in shaping political decisions and
actions
Us and the others
Collective political behavior of
politicised ethnic groups
Ethnic or racial prejudices as
determinants of political behavior
CASE STUDY: 2008 US
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Obama’s candidacy for presidency
and the racial dimension of US
politics and social life
 Support of the race groups for
Obama:
Whites:
%43
Blacks:
%95
Hispanics: %67

VIEWS ON WHITE SUPPORT
FOR OBAMA



Supporting Obama in terms of
escaping the stigmata of racism
Obama’s self-introduction of being
centrist and post-racial
The economic crisis caused
Americans to realize that they could
not evaluate the candidates on the
basis of race
ATTITUDES OF OTHER RACE
GROUPS


Black support for Obama: the one in
a million chance to provide Black
presence in US administration
Hispanics:mostly belonging to lower
classes and falling victim to racial
prejudices, Obama’s presidency is a
hope for social and economic policies
in their advantage
RACISM IN THE USA
Historical racism and anti-Black
sentiments in the USA
 The new racism: Symbolic racism
The belief that blacks (and Hispanics)
get special and undeserved treatment
from the US governments

AGE AND POLITICAL
BEHAVIOR


Several nation-wide studies on the
relationship between age and
political behavior, but all lacking a
global look on the age phenomenon
as a whole
National studies show that people
belonging to old age groups are
much more eager to vote in the
elections
AGE AND POLITICAL
BEHAVIOR




Mark Franklin (2004) was the first to
examine the age phenomenon from
a global comparative perspective
The cohort composition of the
electorate
Voting as a habit and habituation
process developing in accordance
with age
Health problems may constitute
barriers against old age voter
AGE AND POLITICAL
BEHAVIOR

Old age people generally see
voting,as well as a habit, as their
citizenship duty or as a sign of their
loyalty to the political system
THE THREE TYPES OF
EFFECTS

Differences between age groups in
terms of political participation can be
determined by three types of effects:
Cohort
Life cycle
Individual aging
COHORT EFFECT



Shared experience by a group that
was born during a certain period
Shared socialisation as a political
generation (i.e. The 68 generation in
Turkey)
Shared social characteristics in terms
of education, media, technology…etc
LIFE-CYCLE EFFECT



Different life stages such as childhood,
teenhood, adulthood…etc.
At each stage, there are demands
imposed on the individuals from the
sociocultural environment
Also at each stage, there are differing
responsibilities (i.e. Parents getting more
involved in politics since political
developments are crucial for the future of
their children)
INDIVIDUAL AGING EFFECT



Past voting experiences increase the
probability of future voting
Repetation of the same political
behaviors over time (voting) make it
a more concrete habit
The older we are, the more likely we
are to adhere to the social norm of
voting
VOTING AS A SOCIAL NORM


Voting behavior becoming a social
norm in time (especially in liberal
democracies) and adherence to this
norm can be observed by the
elements within the social
environment
Voting becoming a moral duty that
brings social gratification for the
voter
FACTORS INFLUENCING OLD
AGE VOTING BEHAVIOR






Sense of duty to vote
Religiosity
Duration of residence
Party identification
Pension as a main source of income
Political interest