The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
Lecture on “The Psychology of Democracy”Professor Fathali M. Moghaddam was born in Iran. He graduated from the University of Liverpool, and earned his PhD in Psychology from the University of Surrey in England. He has taught at McGill University in Canada, and has been teaching at Georgetown University in USA since 1990.
Currently, he is serving as a professor of psychology and director of the Conflict Resolution Program at the Department of Government, Georgetown University. He is a specialist of culture and intergroup conflict, with a particular focus on the psychology of globalization, radicalization and terrorism.
In his lecture, Prof. Moghaddam remarked that there are three types of orders in changing society. He stated that first-order change takes place without altering either the formal law or the informal normative system that justifies unequal treatment on the basis of group membership. Second-order change involves a change in formal law to make unequal treatment on the basis of group membership illegal, while the informal normative system continues to allow unequal treatment on the basis of group membership. Third-order change involves a transformation of both the formal and informal systems: it is a change of systems, from one system to another, rather than a change only within one system.
The Third-order change, which is a systemic change, he said is very difficult for society to achieve because the speed of change at the macro level, the society level, can be much faster than at the micro psychological level.
He said that to bring about psychological change among citizens, we need the following three things: appropriate leadership, the support of the elites and democratic citizens who can work within the new system.
“Change is not always in the same direction. There is no inevitability about the direction of change. The extremists of both left and right make the same mistake. There are many examples in history of more democratic societies becoming less democratic societies.” Prof. Moghaddam stressed that in order to achieve a full democracy, we should focus more on the development of human talent.