The Psychology of Populism

Populism has been resurgent in many liberal democracies. It succeeds by exploiting fundamental characteristics of human psychology by appealing to deep, tribal instincts. As such, it not only challenges, but also threatens fundamental Enlightenment principles of individualism, tolerance, and freedom.

While liberal democracy assumes that political choices are based on rational, tolerant and pragmatic considerations, populism does not. It is a fundamentally collectivist, tribal, and anti-individualist ideology. But are there significant differences between left-wing and right-wing populism? And what kind of challenge does populism present for liberal democracies?

Peter and Joe explore the surprising attraction of populism in liberal democratic countries such as the US, Hungary, the UK, and increasingly here in Australia.

A political refugee from communism and migrated to Australia from Hungary at the age of 22, Joseph Forgas studied psychology at Macquarie University and obtained his doctorate at the University of Oxford and is Scientia Professor of Psychology at the University of New South Wales.