Summer Institute in Political Psychology

A view of Stanford from Hoover Tower

A view of Stanford from Hoover Tower

I spent the past three weeks in beautiful Stanford, California at the Summer Institute in Political Psychology (SIPP).  I had an absolutely incredible experience and learned so much about the field that I can’t wait to contribute to it.  Political Psychology is a unique discipline in that it has trouble fitting neatly into either Political Science or Psychology more broadly.  Political Psychology true to its name, as Jon Krosnick describes, essentially aims to understand more about the human brain and psychology in general by studying political contexts.  However, it is more common to think of it as “psychological political science” wherein we use psychological principles and methods to understand political behavior.  Many prominent scholars who study political psychology are actually trained as social psychologists, but publish in political science journals and hold dual appointments at universities in political science and psychology. It truly is a fascinating field and one that is still growing and developing all the time.

To hop off of my academia tirade, I’ll write a bit about what we did at SIPP.

Every day a new lecturer came in to speak to us for about five hours. We had a long lecture in the morning, then had lunch and discussion groups where we discussed the previous day’s lectures and readings, then another long lecture in the afternoon.  Our lecturers were mainly psychologists, such as Tom Pettigrew, Lee Ross, and Jon Krosnick, and political scientists like Neil Malhotra and Mike Tomz, with sociologist Robb Willer and several with dual appointments in other disciplines as well.  We had some opportunities to get feedback on current projects we are working on from other participants as well as the lecturers.  It was incredible to hear about all of the different projects going on around the world! It seemed like each project described made us find our own projects boring and want to hop on board the other! It was also really neat to see how excited everyone got about research in this area and how helpful they were.  Everyone has such different experiences that discussion groups were always interesting and feedback was wonderful and spanned many literatures.  Most participants were at various stages of PhD programs in political science across the country (i.e. Indiana University, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, Notre Dame, etc.), with a few in psychology PhD programs at UCLA, an Assistant Professor in Mass Communications, and a few who worked in the real world (i.e. USAID, Latin America campaigns, Italian Parliament, etc.)


The program gave me some unique training that will undoubtedly help me with my thesis as well as introducing me to some people who expressed an interest in continuing to help me with future research projects.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend SIPP and could not have done it without support from the Charles Center, the Government Department, Professor Jaime Settle, and my family. I would like to thank Jon Krosnick for continuing to promote SIPP, the lovely Stanford University for hosting, Josh Loud and Annie Franco for leading discussion and coordinating SIPP, all of our amazing lecturers, and finally all of the participants and new friends.  Most importantly, I am beyond grateful for the support and encouragement from my family and Professor Settle.


  1. cdenright says:

    Taylor this sounds like it was an unbelievable experience! I can easily see how hearing professional speak about their research would be inspiring and helpful as you turn to working on your own! The insights and ideas that they articulated must have been invaluable, especially to then bring them back to and apply an undergraduate setting. I’m glad the trip was a success and I’m so excited for you to start working on your thesis! Best of luck!!

  2. mjschwenzfeier says:

    Hey Taylor – this all sounds so cool! I can’t wait to see how you apply everything you learned at SIPP to your thesis this year!

  3. Sounds like you had a great experience at Stanford and really benefited from attending those lectures! I also got to visit Stanford last month and I am in love with their campus, very different feel from W&M. Maybe you will be back to Stanford again for further study on your research 🙂