International Political Psychology (IPOPSY)

The International Political Psychology (IPoPsy) working group engages with theoretical debates and empirical puzzles in International Relations, focusing on the psychological factors that shape political decision making in key issue-areas (e.g. climate change, nuclear proliferation, governance, and intractable interstate conflicts).

If you are interested in Political Psychology resources or want to get involved with our working group, please contact Thomas Stocks:

International Political Psychology (IPOPSY) is part of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS).

About us

Our interdisciplinary group brings together senior and junior scholars who share a common passion: the study of complex global political-psychological phenomena such as cooperation, tolerance, radicalization, extremism, violence,  their determinants and their implications at the individual, group, national and mass levels, with particular attention on processes that involve perceptions, beliefs, stereotypes, attitudes, and culture. Our team collectively has extensive expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, spanning from experiments, large-N surveys, in-depth elite interviews, ethnographic research, content and discourse analysis, and document analysis. Our working group sits within the Institute for Conflict Cooperation and Security (ICCS), holds monthly research meetings at the University of Birmingham, hosts research talks with invited speakers, and organizes methodology workshops that are open to all. We collaborate closely with the Trust Working Group, and we are members of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), the Political Psychology section of the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR-PolPsy) and the International Studies Association (ISA).


We welcome research collaborations with scholars and students (PGR, PGT and UG) who are interested in the psychological determinants of political phenomena at the global level.  We are currently working on the following projects – please contact us if you want to join any of our research projects, gain valuable research experience, share expertise, and develop your own research alongside ours.

The Challenge of Building Trust between Adversaries: this project pioneers the application of the concept of interpersonal trust to the international level, focusing on the psychological dispositions and interactions that lead political leaders to accept vulnerability in their interactions with the leaders of states with whom their state is in an adversarial relationship. The project examines how new trusting relationships that overcome the barriers to trust can be made possible (e.g. peaceful/defensive self-images, and bad faith models of the adversary). For more information, contact Nicholas Wheeler

Institution-based Trust (the Moscow Washington Hotline) in Cold War superpower relations: this project investigates the interaction between interpersonal and institution-based trust and their relationship to cooperation in international crisis situations. It examines two cases: the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. For more information contact  Eszter Simon

Social Identity and Trust: this project applies psychology models of social identity to issues of trust and cooperation in post-'Troubles' Northern Ireland. For more information contact Sumedh Rao

The Creation of the Hotline: this project focuses on the interaction of trust in different levels, but looks at this interaction more from the direction of the micro (interpersonal) level than on the mezo (group/state) level, taking into account insights from psychology. For more information contact  Eszter Simon

The Hungarian-American visa crisis of Autumn 2014: this project uses insights of social psychology, particularly role theory. For more information contact  Eszter Simon

Neuroscientific and behavioural insights for decision-making in international confrontations: This work examines decision-making to provide both academic insight and practical policy tools. It examines real-world historical and contemporary cases, such as managing China-U.S. escalation scenarios. It also uses neuro-computational approaches to identify commonalities and differences in decision-making between cultures. For more information contact Nicholas Wright

Public sector reform and psychological analyses of behaviour. This project focuses on public sector and civil service reform, drawing on insights from social and political psychology to understand and improve reform efforts. For more information contact Sumedh Rao

Political Radicalization, Emotionality and Political Values: this project examines the psychological determinants of political radicalization in the context of the recent economic crisis. It explores whether there is a structure of attitudes and values that turns citizens towards political violence, or prevents them from supporting radical actors, on the right or left, when public morale is low and extreme politics are gaining ground. Here we are interested in identifying the ‘borders of radicalization, by mapping the circumstances under which citizens are more likely to resist radical ideologies and behaviors. For more information contact Tereza Capelos

Public Perceptions and Media Representations of Groups in the UK: this project uses an approach grounded in political science and psychology to explore how the rights of different groups (women, people with disabilities, asylum seekers, LGBT+ people, and people receiving benefits) are approached by the public and the media in the UK, and how these approaches interact. This study involves content analysis, conducting experiments, and collecting interview data. For more information contact Thomas Stocks

Emotions, Political Tolerance and the Young: this collaborative project combines political science and psychology research to understand the impact of anger and fear on young people's perceptions of asylum seekers and reasoning about their rights. We conduct experiments and collect interview data with young people to measure how specific emotions can change how we reason about the rights of minorities. For more information contact Tereza Capelos

Organizational Reputations and Media Responses to Blame: this project  investigates how organizational reputations can predict the types of responses international business organizations provide when implicated in scandals or allegations of bad business practice, such as child labour or unsafe working conditions. For our data analysis we match data on international organizational reputations and corporate social responsibility (CSR) with content analysis data of organizational scandal and account coverage. For more information contact Tereza Capelos

Threat Perception In Populist Securitization Narratives: This project aims at unpacking the support for populist argumentations on security by determining the relation between the way we appraise a populist message and the way we process information.  By investigating the psychological impacts of populism’s representation of security, the project sheds light on the processes characterizing the populist construction of security narratives, as well as the audience’s internalization of such representations of threats. For more information contact Donatella Bonansinga

Working Group Members

Academic members:

NameJob titleSchool or DepartmentEmailTelephone
Dr Tereza CapelosSenior Lecturer in Political Psychology
Director for the MSc in Global Cooperation and Security
Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and (0)121 414 6366
Dr Eszter SimonResearch Fellow in International Relations and PsychologyInstitute for Conflict, Cooperation and (0)121 414 7759
Professor Nicholas J. WheelerProfessor of International Relations
Director of the The Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security
Department of Political Science and International (0)121 414 6215/Tina Aston: +44 (0)121 414 8398
Professor Stefan WolffProfessor of International SecurityDepartment of Political Science and International (0)121 414 8230
Dr Nicholas WrightSenior Research FellowInstitute for Conflict, Cooperation and (0)121 414 8242

Doctoral researchers:

Latest research news

Posted 06 December 2017

Call for applications: Midlands Graduate School DTP Scholarships 2018

The Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS) invites applicants interested in high quality post-graduate training in International Relations and/or Political Psychology focusing on conflict, cooperation, and security to consider the following funding opportunity offered by the ESRC's Doctoral Training Partnership.

If you are interested in Political Psychology resources or want to get involved with our working group, please contact Thomas Stocks:

International Political Psychology (IPOPSY) is part of the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS).