September 23, 2008
There are a lot of jokes that start: “There are two kinds of people…” I suppose that when it comes to politics, there are those who vote and those don’t.
Psychology is the study of all kinds of people. It’s about what we do, and why we do it. In our most recent election, some people voted but others who could have did not. Why people choose to do one behavior and not do another is part of what psychology studies.
But psychology isn’t limited to just one perspective. Voting could be explained by decision theory. Some researchers might choose to examine personality traits of the voters, the candidates or both. Other research might look at the media clips, or analyze the influence of positive or negative ads. Still others might use mathematical models to predict voting patterns.
What all approaches in psychology share is an emphasis on systematic observation. Regardless of the research technique, we rely on observations to identify patterns of behavior. We’re not all that interested in a single instance of behavior. Psychology looks for general principles that explain, and hopefully predict, human behavior. One election is interesting but having patterns of behavior is our ultimate goal. We want to know why people do the things they do.
For more on why people are the way they are, check out our free course on Personality. Everything you need to learn about personality is there. We give no college credit because we don’t charge anything.