International Society of Political Psychology


For your interest: A political psychological perspective on the Scottish independence referendum

Posted by Emma O'Dwyer •

A political psychological perspective on the Scottish independence referendum

Social/political psychologists Tereza Capelos and Steve Reicher are quoted in a recent article from the BBC about the tactics utilised by both sides of the Scottish independence campaign in the UK.  

Here's an extract from the article:

Dr Tereza Capelos, from the University of Surrey, is a specialist in political psychology, electoral behaviour and public opinion.

She said: "Bullying is a strong word but it might not be far from reality in terms of how this might play out in the hearts of particular audiences.

"If a particular element of an issue is highlighted, that will become the dominant consideration in the public's perception of the issue. This is known in political psychology as priming."

Dr Capelos predicted that pro-independence Scots would react in three ways to the 'political priming' of currency concerns:

  • Those with a more risk-averse approach, who also consider the issue of currency important, might feel intimidated and back away from supporting independence
  • Those who are more risk-seeking might dismiss it as a rhetoric exercise, and may solidify their position towards independence
  • Those who consider the currency issue important, but feel they have been treated unfairly, will be even more inclined to vote Yes.

Which one of these routes voters take will be affected by the response of other politicians, in a stage known to the experts as "spinning".

You can read the article in full at the below link:

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