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Political Psychology



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Just as even the most personal of our narratives can ultimately be traced back to our communal pasts, so they are worked up, told, and retold through complex chains of sharing: Situated utterances, partial hearings and fractured representations circulate meanings and interpretations through relays of retelling as social agents listen to and tell their own and each other’s stories. Narrative political psychologists explore how the storied lives of political actors are both shaped by their historical and structured circumstances and reproduce their ongoing political agency. In such contexts, how do narrative political psychologists assess truth claims? Guided by a Critical Realist theoretical approach, the article sets out a series of considerations for the assessment of truth and facts. Three interrelated characteristics underpin the search for truth and meaning in political storytelling: Responsibility, Recognition and Representation, applied to the scientific community, research participants, and the broader polity, respectively. The article explores the ethical and practical implications of the three characteristics in the evaluation of truth claims across political narratives, highlighting both the quest for verifiable facts and the complexity and indeterminacy of the historical and cultural contexts in which truths emerge and are contested. Reference is made throughout to an empirical study of the narratives of members of a declining fraternal organization.

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Nesbitt-Larking, P. (2022), Responsibility, Recognition, and Representation: The Ethical Bases of Truth Evaluation in Political Narrative Analysis. Political Psychology, 43: 549-561. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12780

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