Relationship between Political Science and Psychology

Relationship between Political Science and Psychology are described below:

Psychology is the science of Psyche, dealing with the behaviour of man. It is “the positive science of behaviour”.

According to Ward, “Psychology is the science of individual experiences”. “Psychology”, says Wood-worth, “is the science of the activities of individual in relation to the environments”.

It is the “science of social consciousness and deals with the rational and irrational aspects of human life”. As Political Science deals with the political side of human life, it has to be taken for granted that it is intimately related to psychology which deals with all the sides of human behaviour.


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Human psychology provides us an insight into the practical behaviour of man, “Political interests and political parties”, rightly affirms R.G. Gettel, “are to a great extent Psychological in nature and the traditions and ideals of a people are potent forces in political life. Psychology deals with the psyche of man and enquires into his behaviour both as an individual and in groups and attempts to explain the motives working behind his actions Political Science which deals with the political side of human life cannot ignore the claims of psychological effects.

The State and other political institutions are the creation of human mind and so they can be best understood in the terms of human mind. This makes it very clear that there is an intimate relationship between Psychology and Political Science.

Political theories have influenced social psychologists and psychological approaches have helped the political investigators in finding out the solution to the puzzling problems of politics. “If we consider the state,” says Dr. Garner, “apart from its concrete organisation and its manifestations through legally constituted agencies, we shall see that it is essentially physical rather than physical, subjective rather than objective in character. Consequently, the course of state life is determined in large measure by psychic factors”.


He further points out that “Psychology, therefore, contains the key to the problems of adaptation of particular forms of governments and laws to the character of the people”. He further says, “Again if we should attempt to explain why certain forms of government have worked successfully among some races and failed among other; why certain races have manifested a high degree of political capacity while others have not, and why the largest degree of liberty has been to some peoples and brought ruin to others, we should probably find the explanation in the facts of race psychology”.

Human actions are influenced to a very great extent by the prevailing political, social and religious tendencies and it is Psychology that studies them. It deals with the mental set-up of man, with his feelings and with his behaviour. Therefore, it is always admissible to study human psychology before studying the political actions of man.

For example, whenever a government passes a new law with a view to bringing about a radical reforms, it has to pay due attention to the public reaction. No government can ignore the claims of public opinion and if the claims of public opinion are ignored, there is every possibility of the out-break of revolution.

The French Revolution in 1789, the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Chinese Revolution in 1949 and Iranian Revolution of 1979, broke out because the governments of these countries ignored the claims of public opinion. Only a few years ago when the American government prohibited drinking, the American public raised a series of protest against prohibition and the Government of United States of America had to submit to the demand of the public.


This makes it very clear that the governments have to create the public opinion before passing any law; otherwise the success of the law always remains uncertain. For example, near about in 1921 22, the Government of India passed Sharda Act which banned the child-marriages, but this Act could not prove successful because the government had not created earlier the public opinion in its favour.

Only a few years ago, the Government of India passed the laws in connection with the Prohibition of Drinking, Gold Control and Compulsory Deposit Scheme. Though these laws are in the interest of the country yet they can prove a success only when the public supports them wholeheartedly. We can be successful in solving the pressing problems of the day only when we have studied the public opinion earlier. In this connection Professor Barker has very aptly remarked. “The application of psychological clues to the riddles of human activity has indeed become the fashion of the day. If our forefathers thought biologically, we think psychologically”.

The writers who have sought the help of psychological approaches in solving the puzzling problems of Political Science are “Tarde, Durkheim, Le Bom in France, Mac Dugall, Trotter, Wallas in England, Baldwin, Eldwood and others in America”.

Comte also laid emphasis on Psychology as the basis of his theories and Spencer relied upon it almost as much as he did upon biology. Holtzendorf has regarded Psychology as a branch of Political Science. In his well known book “Physics and Politics”.

Bagehot has attempted to explain the working of the English constitution to a large measure on psychological grounds. Mr. Boutmy has pointed out the influence of psychological factors upon the character and working of the English and American political institutions.

Barker has remarked that since the publication of Bagehot’s “Physics and Politics”, political theorists have turned social psychologists. Lord Bryce has gone to the extent of saying that “Politics has its roots in psychology, the study (in their actuality) of the mental habits and volitional proclivities of mankind”.

If we want to know why democracy could be successful in certain races and why it proved an utter failure in other races, we have to study race psychology thoroughly. For example, Democracy is proving more successful in England than in France, Italy, and Western Germany and is not at all successful in Eastern Europe (Eastern Germany, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Russia) and China.

The main cause behind this is that the peoples of these countries are of different tastes. Before 1947 Pakistan had been the part of Indian Sub continent but Democracy could not flourish in Pakistan whereas it is proving quite successful in India. The main cause behind all this is that the people of the north are of different taste.

The root cause behind all the political movements and revolutions breaking out in modern times is that the governments of the concerned countries do not care for the public opinion. Some years ago, military revolutions broke out in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Dahomey and Sudan. The root cause behind all these revolutions was the same.

Dr. Garner has rightly remarked, “Government, to be stable and really popular, must reflect and express mental ideas and moral sentiments of those who are subject to its authority, in short it must be in harmony with what Le Bon call the mental constitution of the race”.

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