Nuove prospettive per la psicologia politica: contributi in tema di «Social Cognition»

N. 3/1986


Summary – The most recent scientific literature demonstrates that cognitive psychology (especially from the european side) may give an important contribution to political psychology.

Previously the meeting of cognitive psychology with social psychology had driven cognitive psychology to move its own attention from emphasis on the study of micro-processes to emphasis on the study of macro-processes.

The development of a congruous research field related to "social cognition" proves current interest of cognitive psychology around the study of those mechanisms of information collection and elaboration which are related to social world. A cognitive approach doesn’t mean a rational approach to social knowledge. In fact many works on categorization processes demonstrate the existence of simplification processes which can lead the subject to make inferential errors. Tajfel contribution to these problems is particularly relevant as far as it points out how much categorization processes may emphasize social distance and conflict between groups. Also the classic attribution theory, reviewed in the european social psychology’s perspective, may serve to explain how conflict between groups may be created or enhanced by systematic biases in the interpretation of behaviour’s causes.

If cognitive hypothesis is valid, then it opens a wide possibility of intervention to the politician who can influence in a positive or negative sense the elaboration of information and knowledges. Furthermore one other typical function of the political dynamics, i.e. the role of the "third", may be reconsidered from a cognitive point of view both as an element which escapes from categorical polarization and as a mediating element which intervenes actively in modifying percentual distortions of antagonists.