Shawn W. Rosenberg

Picture of Shawn W. Rosenberg
Professor of Political Science and Psychological Science
B.A., Yale University
OTH, Oxford University (Political Sociology); Harvard University (Psychology)
Phone: (949) 824-7143, 5361
Fax: (949) 824-8762
University of California, Irvine
5253 Social Sciences Plaza B
University of California
Mail Code: 5100
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Political Psychology, Populism, Deliberative Democracy, Ideology, Social & Development Psychology
Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Visiting Professor, Department of Political Science, Leiden University, Netherlands
Visiting Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Visiting Fellow,University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
Visiting Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
Visiting Professor, Department of Political Science, Lund University, Sweden
Postdoctoral Fellow, NSF Program in Political Psychology, Yale University
Research Abstract
Professor Rosenberg is interested in political cognition, communication, deliberative democracy, populism and the decline of liberal democracy. His approach to these questions reflects his background in psychology and political sociology and his training in empirical research and theoretical inquiry.

In his research Professor Rosenberg pursues three related fields. First, he has a general theoretical interest in the relation between the individual and society in the explanation of political phenomena. He has written on the conflict between sociological and psychological explanations of behavior and the need for a theoretical foundation for a social psychology of political life. Second, he has dealt with problems of conceptualization and empirical methodology. At various points he has critiqued the literatures on public opinion, political socialization, public choice and deliberative democracy. Third, he has been interested in the various ways in which psychological research can inform the study of political behavior. In this context, he has done research applying psychological methods to the analysis of political cognition and ideology. This includes work on the structural nature of political thinking, attributing responsibility under conditions of international conflict, the effect of candidate appearance on voter's choices, nationalism and attitudes toward immigrants and minorities.

Professor Rosenberg’s research now focuses on the current rise of populism in North America and Europe. Like much of his work, the research has both theoretical and empirical aspects. The theoretical effort focuses on making sense of what populism is, why it is a particularly potent force in the early 21st century and its implications for the decline of liberal democracy. This effort combines insights from sociology, psychology and political science. His empirical research focuses on the cognitive bases of populism’s attraction. The claim here is that, relative to liberal democracy, populism offers an a structured view of politics which is consistent with how most people think. It is therefore readily understood and embraced.

Professor Rosenberg has served as Chair of the Political Psychology Section of the American Political Science Section and as a Program Chair and a Member of the Governing Council of the International Society of Political Psychology. He has given numerous invited lectures in Europe, Asia and North America. His research has been covered in a variety of television and radio programs in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Germany, and other news outlets including New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, El Periodico (Espana) National Public Radio,,, (India), Commentary Magazine among others.
Awards and Honors
American Association of University & College Libraries - Outstanding Academic Book Award
International Society of Political Psychology - Erik Erikson Award for Early Career Achievement
Deliberation, Participation and Democracy: Can the People Decide? (Editor) London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
The Not So Common Sense: How People Judge Social and Political Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. (Paperback version 2006)
Reason, Ideology and Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Political Reasoning and Cognition, (with D. Ward and S. Chilton). Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988.
"Rejecting the Liberal Democratic Concept of Corruption: Witch Hunts, the Perversion of Justice and the Case(s) of Donald Trump." In J. Mendilow and I. Peleg (eds.),Corruption and Resitance: Democracy in Decline (London: Elgar) 2024.
“Democracy Devouring Itself: The Rise of the Incompetent Citizen and the Appeal of Right Wing Populism.” In D.Hur & JM. Sabucedo (Eds.) Psychology of Political and Everyday Extremisms. Brazil: Editora Vozes, 2020
"How the Pandemic is Undermining American Democracy" MarketWatch.Com The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, September 2020
"Cognition and Political Ideology in Aging." (with M. Fisher, et al.) Journal of American Geriatrics Society (2020) DOI: 10.1111/jgs.16935
"Democracy's Final Act? Freely Choosing Right Wing Populism'." Horizons: A Journal of International Relations and Sustainable Development. Winter 2019, pp 1-26
"The Cognitive Structuring of National Identity: individual differences in identifying as American" (with Peter Beattie), Nations and Nationalism (2019) ) 25:1, pp362-384
"Unfit for Democracy? Irrational, Rationalizing and Biologically Predisposed Citizens" Critical Review 2017, V29, No.1, pp. 362-388
"Can the People Govern? Citizen Competence and the Psychology of Deliberation" In S. Estlub & P. McLaverty (eds). Deliberative Democracy: Issues and Cases. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2014
"Theorizing Political Psychology: Doing Integrative Social Science under the Condition of Postmodernity" Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, December 2003, pp.427-460
"Against Neo-Classical Political Economy: A Political Psychological Critique," Political Psychology, 1995, pp.251-280
"The Structure of Political Thinking," American Journal of Political Science, 1988, pp539-566.
The Image and the Vote: The Effect of Candidate Presentation on Voter Preference. American Journal of Political Science, 30:1, pp 108-127.
Professional Societies
American Political Science Association
International Society of Political Psychology
Other Experience
Adminstrative Assistant
Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, Alasdair Gillespie
US Congressman James Corman
Last updated