Political Behavior


The term "mass political behavior" is very broadly defined to include not only tangible forms of behavior (such as voting and participation), but also topics such as public opinion, mass communications, political psychology, and more. Unlike other courses in either American or comparative politics, courses in mass behavior focus less on political institutions and more on the individuals and/or groups in the United States and abroad.

Mass Political Behavior: the Graduate Level

The Political Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh is one of only a handful of departments in the United States that offers graduate students the opportunity to specialize in the subfield of Mass Political Behavior. While students may not elect mass behavior as a primary field, they may select it as their secondary or tertiary field.

If taken as a secondary field, students are expected to complete a minimum of four courses, most of which will be taken within the Political Science Department. Moreover, because mass behavior is an inherently interdisciplinary subfield, students are also permitted (with the permission of the main advisor) to take courses in related disciplines—primarily psychology, economics, and sociology. Students are also encouraged to take a course in experimental design, which is typically offered in the Department of Psychology.

While a great deal of the literature in Mass Political Behavior focuses on the mass public in the United States, scholars are increasingly examining behavior outside of this country. As such, students should plan on taking the course in comparative behavior as a part of their curriculum.