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Home / Issues / № 1, 2015


Bozadzhiev V.L.
The political psyche is a special form of the active subject reflection of the social and political processes and phenomena occurring in the social and political interaction of the subject with the world and regulatory function performed in his behavior (activity). Political psyche opens for the subject not the political situation (political processes and phenomena) as it is, but it's field of action, i.e. those objects of policies and their properties which are important for the subject's life.

Emotions and feelings are not only accompany the policy, but immediately become its driving force. As a manifestation of human needs, emotions are the essential means of motivating political activities and actions. Political emotions are the form of sensual, usually unconscious, but quite productive reflection of the processes and phenomena of the political reality by the human in the form of affective evaluations and reactions [5].

As you know, there are three main aspects of emotions in psychology: physiological mechanisms of emotions, emotional expression and emotion as a result of the evaluation of the situation (e.g. the level of purpose achievement, value and character of the discrepancy between desired and achieved) [1]. In terms of political psychology the special role belongs to the emotions as a result of the situation valuation. It should be borne in mind not only the analysis of external conditions, but rather an individual valuating of opportunities to meet his needs, which depend both on the internal conditions and the political situation. From the point of view of this cognitive-evaluative approach,  the emotional experience grows out of continuous, estimated human interaction with the environment and, in particular, with the actual political situation. R. Lazarus underlines that the evaluation often happens unconsciously. When you already have experience which correlates emotions with the particular political situation - you do not need to examine the situation specifically in order to understand it.

K. Levin noted that the exposure of the cognitive material to the emotional influence is determined by its structuring: the more "vague" is the field of perception, the greater it's susceptibility to the influence of emotions. According to Y. Reykovsky, "the relationship between political events, causal relationships between the factors of ideological, social, economic nature are so complex that their comprehension  exceeds the capacity of a dilettante ... This situation contributes to the dominant emotional relationship to some events" [7].

The modern Russian political process replete with the examples of the emotional impact on policy. Suffice it to recall such episodes as the fight of the Union and the Russian government in 1990 and the behavior of the Emergency Committee members in front of the TV-cameras in August 1991, the Parliament meeting to grant amnesty to members of the August coup, and negotiations of the Prime Minister V.S. Chernomyrdin and Chechen terrorists seized in 1995 in the town of Budennovsk hospital and more than a thousand hostages. There were also examples of "strange emotions." It was difficult to explain the awkward crowd behavior in front of the White House in Moscow at the time when it was fired from tanks because people did not disperse, did not seem to understand the seriousness of what was happening and were present at the performance. This loss of the sense of risk indicates the emotional pathology, which was the result of strong influence of the political stimuli [8].

Sentiments and feelings have the special place in the emotional sphere of human.

The political sentiment is more or less stable, long, without a specific intention emotional state, coloring for some time person's experiences related to the perception of the political situation, social and political processes and phenomena. In fact, it is the emotional index of the population's involvement in the politics which demonstrates the level of it's adaptability to the existing regime and the dominant values.

Expressing a certain emotional and psychological state of the people, sentiments can produce a variety, including opposite, political movements, strengthen the spontaneity and impulsiveness of the subject's actions, change the psychological solidarity groups and population in general. Aristotle, noting the conditions for a successful reign, wrote that the rulers "...need to know the sentiments of those uprisings, ... which actually begin the political turmoil and strife." Machiavelli also pointed to the negative aspect of their existence, while emphasizing that the differences of the sentiment are the main reason "of all the troubles occurring in the state." However, a sense of mass protests, negative for the state exaltation or panic only partially characterize the role of the feelings in politics. In addition to the negative effects, sentiments can have a neutral (such as a state of apathy showing a decrease in claims to authorities), and a positive value (people may feel enthusiasm as a result authority's appeals, in anticipation of it's close victory in the elections, etc.).

Due to its nature sentiment entirely depends on external conditions (e.g. when human aspirations fall off sharply as a result of changes in the situation, which didn't satisfy them fully or forced people to understand the all hollowness of claims) and on the state of the subject. In the latter case, people can not reduce the intensity of their hopes even as a result of multiple failures. They may deny the obvious causes of failure, continuing to believe and achieve their goals. The political sentiment in this case is a powerful source of political will, which seeks to achieve certain goals even against the real state of affairs. The intensity of feelings is greatly increasing when people pursue goals that correspond to their inner convictions and characterizing the position, which they never trade off [6].

There are sentiments that express the ideal demands of the people to power (e.g. demonstrating how leader should behave or regime as a whole) and the sentiments as really folding psychological conditions characterizing one or another people's attitude to various aspects of the politics. At the same time they both can create a background in the political system, or may define certain actions of various subjects.

Understanding the importance of sentiments, political regimes are trying not only to predict their dynamics, but also to manage them. Initiation of the relevant to authorities sentiments are often carried out by means of complex manipulations, specific information and disinformation of the population. For example, authorities often create a "climate of high expectations," demonstrating the sincerity of the relationship with the public, or encourage the spread of myths which create specific political images in the eyes of population. Especially vivid desire to use sentiment for political goals is  observed during the elections, when the promises of parties and leaders often move all the frames actually possible. Even more diverse and contradictory sentiments are in transient conditions. Here they are united not only with the hope for a better future, but with negativity, nostalgia and other contradictory feelings and emotions.

Political feelings are stable emotional relationship of a man to the political processes and phenomena, the highest product of the development of emotional processes in social conditions. The feeling of patriotism relates to the most characteristic feelings from the standpoint of the political and psychological analysis. Patriotism is a moral and political feeling which contains of the love to  fatherland and the willingness to subordinate private interests to the interests of the country; a special emotional experience of belonging to the country and its citizenship, language and traditions.

Russian philosopher I. Ilyin emphasizes that patriotism is a feeling of love for the country and, like any feeling, it is rooted in the unconscious. "Patriotism, as a state of joyful love and inspired creativity, is a spiritual state and therefore it can only autonomic (free) - in the person on a genuine  and spiritual experience. Any prescription coming from outside can prevent this experience or cause ill-fated situation. Love arises "itself" in the natural light and joy, winning and touching the soul. This free particular joy either blesses the man - and then it becomes a living body of the beloved object, and does not weary of it, and glad his luck, or it passes his soul - and then the only thing which can help him is shock that will reveal it as a source of spiritual experience and love [2].

At the same time a sense of patriotism, as well as any moral feeling, brought up and gets quite aware features that allow a person to set goals, which consistent with the values of love for the fatherland. This feeling is purchased in conjunction with national feelings and national consciousness.

It should be emphasized that feeling (along with thinking) is an important object of manipulation. Feelings are more mobile and malleable, and if they are, in the words of S. Kara-Murza, managed to be "disheveled", then thinking is more vulnerable to manipulation. The fact that the sensual stage of reflection to the outside world is closer than thinking, therefore, it is faster and more direct to respond. As the advocates of sociodynamics culture consider, "urging the crowd not with arguments,  but with emotions" [4]. In addition, in the area of senses it is easier to create a "chain reaction" - infection, the epidemic feelings.

According to S. Kara-Murza, the general principles of setting the manipulation of consciousness is pre-rocking of "emotional sphere." The main tool for it is the creating or use of an abnormal situation, or using the crisis of abnormal situation, causing the strong impact on the feelings. It might be an act of terrorism, religious or national conflict, drastic impoverishment of large groups of the population, a major political scandal, etc.

Perhaps the most important feeling, which is mostly exploited in the manipulation of consciousness, is fear. There's even a formula: "a society exposed to inadequate fear loses common mind". Since fear is a fundamental determinant of human behavior, it is always used as a management tool [3]. There are real and illusory fears. The real fear can be excessive, and it is harmful to the extent that it distorts the danger. Illusory, neurotic, fear, does not signal about real danger, and is created in the imagination.

During the Soviet period the so-called "Western fear" or "fear of Western culture" was actively exploited. In Western countries, no less intensely fears of the Cold War (the fear of the threat of war by the Soviet Union against the United States and other Western countries, the fear of nuclear, etc.) were exploited , which were aimed at creating an image of the enemy. For the modern Russia the Western fear of terrorism became topical as an effective mean for manipulation. In recent years, due to the events in Ukraine, uniting the Crimea to the Russian Federation, Western politicians and spin doctors tried to waft fear in Russia, introducing all sorts of sanctions against it. However, the expected effect is not caused.

In summary we note that the political psyche is a special unit, inherent in man, as a subject of political activity, political relations. In the perception of the political phenomena, assessment, understanding, decision-making and implementation of policy actions in the manifestation of political activity (or political passivity and even political alienation), emotional and volitional sphere of political mentality of the person play an important role. Political and psychological analysis of human behavior and activity is impossible without identifying and understanding by human experiences of political reality. Knowledge of the political emotions, their nature and the laws of its' existence allows us to solve many practical problems: to predict mass-phenomena and manage them, manipulate the consciousness of individuals involved in politics, or watching the political events, to shape people's attitudes to the political reality, and others.

1. Izard K.E. Human Emotions. - M., 1980.

2. Ilyin I.A. Path to the Evidence. - M., 1993.

3. Kara-Murza S.G. The Manipulation of Consciousness. - M., 2008.

4. Mol A. The Sociodynamics of culture. - M., 2005.

5. Olshansky D.V. Foundations of the Political Psychology. - Yekaterinburg, 2001.

6. Pugachev V.P., Solovyov A.I. Introduction to the Political Science. - M., 2004.

7. Reykovsky Y. Experimental Psychology of Emotions. - M., 1979.

8. Shastopal E.B. Political Psychology. - M., 2010.

Bibliographic reference

Bozadzhiev V.L. EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS IN THE POLITICAL PSYCHE. International Journal Of Applied And Fundamental Research. – 2015. – № 1 –
URL: www.science-sd.com/460-24779 (02.06.2023).