The Psychology of Democracy


by Chris Kelaher

The explosive U.S. presidential campaign is about to slam into even higher gear, as candidates prepare for the Iowa caucuses (February 1) and New Hampshire primaries (February 9). Anyone who has watched the past several months would admit the American system is far from perfect. But democracy still seems to be the best available system of governance when allowed to develop properly. Countries that have transitioned successfully to democracy are still a minority, however, and none has attained what Fathali Moghaddam calls “actualized democracy,” in which all citizens share full, informed, equal participation in decision making.

What is it about human nature that seems to work for—or against—democracy? In his new book The Psychology of Democracy (APA, 2016), Moghaddam explores political development through the lens of psychological science, examining the factors influencing whether and how democracy develops within a society. He concludes with recommended steps for promoting in citizens the psychological characteristics that foster democracy.

Fathali M. Moghaddam, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Georgetown University and editor-in-chief of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology (APA). His previous books include APA Books’ The Psychology of Dictatorship (2013). His research focus on psychology and the transition from dictatorship to democracy dates goes as far back as 1979, when he returned to his native Iran after its revolution.

Watch Dr. Moghaddam discuss this important new work below! To order or read more about The Psychology of Democracy, go to

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *