The lives of individuals and social groups are associated to a definite extent with politics. The ranges as well as the content of these relations are determined by a number of different factors. One assumes that an individual’s attitude to politics is determined by systemic, historical, social and individual elements.1 The systemic factor concerns a type of political regime, the historical one is a historical moment. As regards social aspects conditioning the man-politics relations they include socially accepted system of values. As far as the individual feature is concerned- these are simply individual characteristics, which exert a strong influence on the way an individual understands politics.

In the beginning of XXI century one can notice in the entire world a coincidence of economic and political institutions activities. "In bygone decades we witnessed deep ideological differences breaking up societies. Monarchy, fascism, liberal democracy and communism competed with one another for political supremacy, while the economies of different countries chose divergent ways of development (...). Today almost all developed countries have separated or are trying to separate political institutions on the basis of liberal democracy (...)"2.

Efficient functioning of liberal political and economic institutions should be based on healthy civil society and its non-government structures. Civil societies are built with definite participation of family that is the basic institution, thanks to which individuals establish contact with a given culture and also gain abilities indispensable to live in a society, function in an economic and political market, taking active or passive part particularly in the last one. Economy and politics are, as has already been proved, strongly interrelated, especially today. Knowledge and values, as well as political attitudes of a given society are imparted from generation to generation through family.

It is worth noticing, as contemporary political science points out, that parliament does not always and in every situation represent public interest. "This interest is ignored or plays a secondary role due to the influence of overwhelming, uncontrolled, particular interests."3 The participation of organization members or just citizens in political matters does not pose a necessary or sufficient condition to influence in a grass-roots way the policy of a particular organisation or government.4 On the one hand, the members of a given social group can demonstrate a low level of political participation in society or organization but still have an impact on politics by the possibility of supporting or depriving of support some bureaucracy running for power.

On the other hand, however, members or citizens can participate actively in political life, attend meetings, belong to many organisations having political character or demonstrate high electoral attendance but their influence on politics will be either limited or even there will be none. Nonetheless, among the individual characteristics of a human mentioned above "recognising political influence as personal value"5 has significant importance. Participation in politics allows a human being to meet various needs. People get involved in politics in order to meet their need of influence, control over other people, power or achievement. Being politically active is also motivated by a strong need of being a part of family that is a need to form bonds, coming into contact with people or being a member of some group.

The level of trust for political system plays an important role in the issue discussed. The easiest way to explain this dependence is by looking at the example of democratic changes in Poland after the year 1990. As one knows, the introduction of democratic political system was taking place along marketing of economy. The necessity to show initiative and find ways to meet one’s economic needs according to free market principles became a challenge for many people which they could not cope with. The reason was not their liking for the socialist system, they often participated in abolishing it. "Theses difficulties result from the fact that during a longer period of life in particular institutional (political) conditions there develops mutual adjustment of normative principles which regulate the functioning of macro-environment and the so called mentality of individuals (...). Individuals learn to achieve their goals within the existing institutional structures and at the same time these structures function as effectively as the characteristics of the people creating them allow for it.

6A lot of researchers of Polish society emphasise that the more than forty-year-long period of socialist system shaped the so called "post-communist mentality" This mentality has the following features: security orientation, unwillingness to take risks, conviction that some uncontrolled outer power is responsible for any failures or disasters an individual experiences. 7The difficulties to adapt to new reality can be dangerous as individuals perceive and assess the political system through their own economic situation, not trusting this political system.

Hence family, social patterns and mentality have influence on individuals`activity. Political mistrust, mentioned above, may lead to the conviction that "positive events will not occur and negative ones will be more probable if an individual himself does not get involved politically".8The value of politics for an individual is related to the position he/she occupies in a social system.

A higher social status, related to education, job, income, is connected with the level of participation in politics according to line dependence - the higher the status, the greater participation in politics. Moreover, such qualities of an individual are enumerated as:9

self-esteem (its high position signifies valuing oneself and makes one get involved in politics); extraversion (this is personal-temperamental feature, which helps one become politically active); pattern of behaviour according to which one is oriented towards achievement, strong tendency to compete, need of recognition, inclination towards strong, constant involvement in various kinds of activities.

It is worth emphasising that every human has his/her own opinions he/she makes value judgments about. It means that he/she attributes positive or negative features to particular phenomena on the basis of normative knowledge referring to reality proposed. "Normative knowledge is, therefore, built up of concepts how it should be. The basis of these concepts is social experience of an individual as well as the processes of images construction as regards the desired state"10 Therefore, what is perceived in accord with such a state is considered by an individual in terms of what is right and just. However, if something is not perceived as such - arouses objection, dislike and the feeling of wrong.

Normative ideas determine a basis necessary to form in a human mind ideas concerning principles, according to which one should function in life. These are so called normative convitions.11 They are a pivotal constituent of human mentality. And mentality itself is defined as a system of principles based on normative assumptions, which a person goes by when processing information about social life.

Apart from the mentality concerning political participation, ideological preferences are also decisive.12 They are described as relatively structured and permanent convictions referring to public matters, rooted in the level of value.13 In Polish society two orientations are distinguished:14 national-catholic and socio-democratic. The third orientation as regards the number is a populist one, while the fourth - liberal. It is emphasised that populism in the sphere of axiology can be both left-wing and right-wing. The difference between the two first orientations is based in Poland on a widely understood attitude to Polska Ludowa (People`s Poland) as well as religion and Catholic Church.

The articulation of basic economic problems is more or less similar. Moreover, one ought to emphasise that, as research carried out shows, it happens very rarely that someone decidedly rejects all constitutional proposals in favour of populist orientation.15 However, it is pointed out, the fact that in the sample there was nobody who would completely fulfill the accepted model of a liberal attitude can be explained by the weakness of Polish liberalism and certain claims attitudes inherited from PRL epoch.

One should also remember that not everyone can be "classified" according to the categories mentioned above, having particular orientation attributed to themselves. It often happens that in various fields, such as attitude to communism, PRL, religion, free market economy or foreign policy, orientation dimensions are identical.16

In the face of the above mentioned one should analyze the forms of political activity and their psychological basis. In a political sense, being active is human behaviour which consists in forming and executing political aims connected with the roles fulfilled by individuals or groups within a political system.17 The scale of commitment, as conscious choice of political behaviour, encompasses five steps: 18slender interest of an individual or a group in political life; limiting oneself to fulfill basic duties (laws); membership in social-political organisations;19 performing roles socially in political organisations; being engaged in politics professionally.

Political involvement, defined also as political participation, is voluntary activity, through which individuals or social groups want to influence the election of the governing ones and the results of political activities. Participation might be also understood as active support of political continuity or change. Three forms of political involvement can be singled out:20conventional participation, unconventional participation, symbolic or ritual participation.

Conventional participation is about being active according to constitutional order. An example would be electoral activity - that is participation in elections to local government, parliament, and presidential elections as well as in referendums. It is worth stressing that for the majority of citizens this is the only form of being politically active. Unconventional participation refers to direct contact of an individual with the world of politics, or direct involvement in politics. It is about undertaking activities which would influence the governing ones' decisions. "This type of activity can be characterised at two levels: legality - any activity forms are consistent with law in force (petitions, letters, participation in a boycott) and illegality - "wild' strikes, public buildings occupation, blocking traffic in order to attract the governing ones' attention or enforcing specific action."21 The last type of participation - symbolic or ritual comes down to individual's participation in various kinds of events, state celebrations, however, without a feeling of real political influence.22

It is worth considering the notion of “political participation intensity”. It is a political dimension which allows distinguishing 3 processes which are an indication of political system influence on an individual’s behaviour. There are three stages of attitudes` changes, or three stages of conformity, that is: compliance, identification and internalization. The compliance with a social-political system is related to personal benefits expected by an individual, which result from subordination or willingness to avoid punishment (fear of possible sanctions). An individual might, however, undertake political activities because he/she identifies him/herself with the governing ones or the system. He/she expresses the conviction that being active makes sense because it supports good relations with people who are accepted and liked by an individual.23

As regards internalizationwe can observe it when political activity is in agreement with needs, norms, an individual’s values. It is activity which is internally justified, which occurs when an individual is not afraid of sanctions or does not expect an award. One ought to emphasise that none of these forms occur separately but they intermingle. The problem of transformation in the structure of a society, which the governing group wants to introduce, is also connected with the level of being politically active.24 The bigger changes they intend to propose, the more likely it is that leaders will expect, or even require a high degree of participation of citizens, members of parties and political organizations. “A high level of controlled and manipulated participation of grass-roots elements is perhaps the only effective way, if one considers leaders` aims, to “give vent to” or direct the dissatisfaction at sudden or rapid changes in traditional models and examples of dependence.”25

The situation leading to a high level of group members` participation in normal conditions has greater potential of decoration that is maintaining efficient opposition in comparison with the situation in which few people show interest or participate in political processes. The opposition, which faces the task of communicating with the uninterested and passive citizens as well as mobilizing them to participate in politics, is in a much worse situation than the governing party.26 Society, in which a large percent of population is outside the arena of politics, potentially seems more “impetuous” and vulnerable to revolutionary agitation than the one in which majority of citizens systematically takes part in activities giving them a definite feeling of participation in activities having influence on their lives.

Participation in politics includes leadership in domestic matters, local leadership, being active as a member of an organization as well as informal “opinion leadership” among one’s colleagues. From the point of view of the needs of this paper, an essential form of political participation is voting and not voting, in spite of the fact that it is usually only the last stage of the process of political participation – reading, brooding and talking.27

The flimsiness of the social paradigm when trying to explain electoral behaviour of citizens have led the researchers of Institute for Social Research, from the university in Michigan, to concentrate on psychic processes which determine electoral decisions as well participation in election itself. 28The key point of the research analysis discussed is indicating the indirect role of permanent psychological predisposition, especially party identification, to create political behaviour. “This argument might seem banal if one ignores emphasising constancy and resistance to this identification being changed.”29 It is worth stressing that party identification is understood as positive, emotional attitude to the structures perceived on the arena of politics: parties and their candidates. It operates as a filter on the world of politics perception and provides voters with instructions concerning the ways of making electoral decisions (supporting “one’s own” party) as well as the ways of events and social-political problems interpretation. One also assumes that this identification is permanent and is not subject to temporary influences of political campaigns. Furthermore, it depends only to a small degree on political attitude adopted by a party or a candidate in particular elections.30

The advocates of models based on identification or party loyalty also laid emphasis on the essential role of political socialization in becoming an advocate of a particular group. Moreover, psychologists think that every country can be marked by typical ways of raising children as well as typical ways in which politics influences adults. Their final goal is to give permanent shape to political orientation, which one was taught in childhood or in youth. Furthermore, an individual is aware of the process only partly. For instance, children who have been raised to respect a particular political figure, e.g. Józef Piłsudski, Józef Stalin or Charles de Gaulle, when they grow up on the basis of the so called halo effect or assimilation effect, can transfer their likings to political successors of some of these figures.31 The process contributes to specific “inheritance” of party identification from one’s parents. This is the reason why it is difficult to change anything in this respect in one’s adult life.

Within the frame of social psychology paradigm, defined also as a paradigm of a socialized individual, there are singled out trials aiming at electoral behaviour explanation. They are decided on by the following psychological variables: voter’s value system; 32 the feeling of political separation; satisfaction with one’s life or fear. As research shows, PIS (Law and Justice) and LPR (the League of Polish Families) advocates, when compared to PO (Civil Platform) supporters, are particularly inclined to react exaggeratedly with fear in various life situations. This might suggest that the voters of these two parties (PIS and LPR) are decidedly more susceptible to seeing various types of danger, even if they do not exist objectively.33The fear of what might happen in the future is the “domain” of LPR electors. The intensity of this type of fear is in their case decidedly higher than when compared to the advocates of PO, SLD (the Alliance of the Democratic Left) and Samoobrona (Self-defence).34 The attempt to analyse different types of fear experienced by the Polish on account of their political preferences indicates that certain kinds of them gather around diverse political forces. It seems that the strong feeling of danger is very characteristic of LPR. On the other hand, however, political program of particular parties can attract people who “are afraid of the same things.”35

Theories based on party identification are criticised from an empirical point of view. Electoral behaviour research analysis, conducted in many countries, has allowed to submit a proposition that in the majority of contemporary democracies party ties disappear. Along with that, there occurs a more and more common phenomenon of voting for a particular person regardless of which party he/she represents.36 It is said, therefore, that there appears new “independent” electorate, described as floating voters. Prevailing existence of these phenomena thus leads to the necessity to reject or verify the models based on party loyalty.37Nevertheless, despite growing criticism, the attitude of a socialized entity is constantly used to predict electoral behaviour of citizens.

One can examine citizens’ electoral behavior from psychological point of view thanks to economic paradigm of electoral behaviour formulated by Anthony Downs. “An axiom (...) of this theory is the assumption that citizens’ behaviour in the sphere of politics is rational. By voting a voter makes a purposeful, willful choice – he/she backs a candidate or a party, which according to his/her convictions, will bring him/her most benefits. Therefore, a rational voter strives after maximizing his/her own expectations of his/her decision usefulness. (...) He/she is only concerned with his/her own interest. Like a consumer, a voter chooses such a political program which is the most satisfying for him/her and which is currently available on the market. As a consequence, he/she does not vote for a candidate but for a definite solution of a political problem.”38

However, if one leaves out the role of emotion and their influence on human behaviour this theory, in certain respect, perceives an entity in such a way as radical conceptions elaborated on the grounds of cognitive psychology, treating one as a computer processor.39Meanwhile, in electoral behaviour studies it has been found that on the basis of emotional attitude to candidates or political parties one can very well predict voters' decisions. In such elections carried out in Poland, it was found that during the presidential elections in 1995 the coefficient of point-biserial correlation between emotional attitude towards the candidates and the electoral intention was rpbi =0,85 (p<0,001). The studies also show that circa 1/3 of voters actually do not know anything about specific politicians and still feel strongly about them.40 Other researchers, occupying themselves with the analysis of the relation between emotional attitude towards candidates and the decision regarding voting for them in elections, received similar results. Elliot Aronson even suggests metaphorically that at present “people vote more with their hearts than with their minds.”41

Another trend concentrates on the analysis of affective attitude influence towards candidates and detailed assessment of their views and features concerning citizens’ electoral behaviour. Two types of processes characterizing a voter taking his/her decision are pondered on: ęłęóderivation and rationalization. Derivation is defined as a process in which electoral decisions are a consequence of individual evaluations of particular information regarding candidates and their aims. Thus a choice is based on the analysis of available circumstances.42Whereas rationalization assumes that the election of a candidate is based on general evaluation of him/her. However, the “circumstances” of this evaluation are difficult to extract from memory (are not easily available). Thereby a choice is based on a general impression, which can be justified only as “after it has taken place” and often” creatively”43.

Although research shows that rationalization is a dominating process of electoral decisions, the problem of “derivation or rationalization” is not that simple. From the analysis of the research conducted during the presidential elections in 2000 there were drawn conclusions that voters use two ways of decision making: both based on emotions as well as on the analysis “for and against”. 44 However, it does not change the fact that choices made by citizens to a limited degree are based on a detailed analysis of available information, which the theory of rational choice postulates.

Summing up, it is worth emphasizing that the democratization taking place in Poland since 1989 is an ambiguous notion and refers to various spheres of social life. We understand the concept of democratization as a process of political system transformation towards participation of a given country citizens in political life but also a change of life forms according to the spirit of democratic changes. Democratization, encompassing a particular population does not have to be something permanent and inherited, like, e.g., patriotism. For it is a process which must last continually and solve new problems, created by the present time


1.Aronson, F. (1997). Człowiek istota społeczna (Man – a social being),Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN, Warszawa

2.Biernat, T, (1999). Józef Piłsudski-Lech Wałęsa: paradoks charyzmatycznego przywództwa (Józef Piłsudski and Lech Wałęsa: a paradox of charismatic leadership.), Wydawnictwo A. Marszałek, Toruń 1999

3. Boski, P., Jarymowicz, M., Malewska-Peyre, H. ( 1992). Tożsamość a odmienność kulturowa (Identity and cultural dissimilarity) , Istytut Psychologii PAN, Warszawa

4. Cwalina,W.,Falkowski,A.(2005).Marketing polityczny.Perspektywapsychologiczna (Political marketing. Psychological perspective), Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, Gdańsk

5. Kopaliński, W. (2000). Słownik wyrazów obcych i zwrotów obcojęzycznych z almanachem (Dictionary of loanwords and foreign expressions with an almanac), Świat Książki, Warszawa

6. Lipset, S.M. (1995). Homo Politicus. Społeczne podstawy polityki (Social bases of politics), Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa

7. Maruszewski, T. ( 2001). Teoria poznania: sposoby rozumienia siebie i świata (Learning theory: the ways of understanding oneself and the world), Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, Gdańsk 2001

8. Norma, S. Ehrlich. (1997). Grupa. Organizacja (Norm. Group. Organization), Wydawnictwa Prawnicze pWN, Warszawa 1997

9. Reykowski J. ( 1993). Wartości i postawy społeczne a przemiany systemowe. Szkice z psychologii politycznej (Values, social attitudes and system TransformationStudies of political psychology), Wydawnictwo IP PAN, Warszawa

10. Świda-Ziemba, H. (1994). Mentalność postkomunistyczna (Post-communist mentality), [in] "Kultura i Społeczeństwo" ("Culture and Society", no 1/1994

11. Skarżyńska, K. (2005). Człowiek a polityka. Zarys psychologii politycznej (Human being and politics. An outline of political psychology), Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, Warszawa

12. Wesolowska, E. (2003). Psychologiczne przystosowania do gospodarki rynkowej (Psychological adaptation to market economy), [in] T. Godlewski, w. Jurkiewicz (edit), Demokracja i społeczeństwo. Studia z myśli politycznej i zmian ustrojowych w Polsce (Democracy and society. Studies on political thought and political system changes in Poland), Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej TWP, Warszawa 2003, p. 145

13.Wojtaszczyk, K. A., W. Jakubowski, W. (2003). (edit), Społeczeństwo i polityka. Podstawy nauk politycznych (Society and politics. The bases of political sciences), Oficyna Wydawnicza ASPRA-JR, Warszawa.

14. Zaufanie. F. Fukuyama. (1997). Kapitał społeczny a droga do dobrobytu (Trust. Social capital and the way to prosperity), Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa-Wrocław

1 Wojtaszczyk, K. A., W. Jakubowski, W. (2003). Społeczeństwo i polityka. Podstawy nauk politycznych (Society and politics. The bases of political sciences), Oficyna Wydawnicza ASPRA-JR, Warszawa. p. 143.

2 Zaufanie. F. Fukuyama.(1997). Kapitał społeczny a droga do dobrobytu (Trust. Social capital and the way to prosperity), Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa-Wrocław. p. 13.

3 Norma, S. Ehrlich. (1997). Grupa. Organizacja (Norm. Group. Organization), Wydawnictwa Prawnicze pWN, Warszawa 1997, p. 197

4 ,Lipset, S.M. (1995). Homo Politicus. Społeczne podstawy polityki (Social bases of politics), WydawnictwoNaukowe PWN, Warszawa.

5 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003). et al., op. cit., p.143

6 Wesolowska, E. (2003). Psychologiczne przystosowania do gospodarki rynkowej (Psychological adaptation to market economy), [in] T. Godlewski, w. Jurkiewicz (edit), Demokracja i społeczeństwo. Studia z myśli politycznej i zmian ustrojowych w Polsce (Democracy and society. Studies on political thought and political system changes in Poland), Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej TWP, Warszawa 2003, p. 145

7 Świda-Ziemba, H. (1994). Mentalność postkomunistyczna (Post-communist mentality), [in] "Kultura i Społeczeństwo" ("Culture and Society", no 1/1994, pp. 35-50.

8 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003). op. cit., p. 144.

9 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003). Ibid, p.144

10 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003). Ibid, p.144

11 Convictions about how it should be.

12 Kopaliński, W. (2000). Słownik wyrazów obcych i zwrotów obcojęzycznych z almanachem (Dictionary of loanwords and foreign expressions with an almanac), Świat Książki, Warszawa 2000, p. 324.

13 Skarżyńska, K. (2005). Człowiek a polityka. Zarys psychologii politycznej (Human being and politics. An outline of political psychology), Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, Warszawa 2005, p. 215.

14 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003). et al., op. cit., p. 148

15 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003).Ibid, p.148

16 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003).Ibid, p.148

17 Skarżyńska, K. (2005). op. cit., p. 199

18 Wojtaszczyk , K.A. (2003). et al, op. cit., p.150

19 For example participation in elections

20 for example in political parties

21 Reykowski J. (1993). Wartości i postawy społeczne a przemiany systemowe. Szkice z psychologii politycznej (Values, social attitudes and system transformationStudies of political psychology), Wydawnictwo IP PAN, Warszawa 1993, p. 59

22 Wojtaszek, K.A. ( 2003).et al., op. Cit., p. 150

23 For example 1 May marches, elections to the Sejm in PRL period.

24 Lipset, S.M. (1995).op. cit., p. 191

25 Lipset, S.M. (1995). op. cit, p.191

26 The fact that usually only a few members are interested in the political process of a trade union contributes significantly to the existence of one party oligarchy in union movement. In addition to that, one should emphasise that the factors which favour apathy in trade unions constitute a part of a wider collection, which is not, however, discussed in this paper.

27 Lipset, S.M. (1995). op. cit., p. 192

28 Cwalina, W., Falkowski, A. (2005); Marketing polityczny. Perspektywa psychologiczna (Political marketing. Psychological perspective), Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, Gdańsk , p. 62.

29 Cwalina, W.(2005); Ibid, p.62

30 Cwalina, W. (2005); Ibid,p.62

31 Biernat, T.(1999).Józef Piłsudski-Lech Wałęsa: paradoks charyzmatycznego przywództwa (Józef Piłsudski and Lech Wałęsa: a paradox of charismatic leadership.), Wydawnictwo A. Marszałek, Toruń 1999, pp. 111-112.

32 Boski, P., Jarymowicz, M., Malewska-Peyre, H. (1992).Tożsamość a odmienność kulturowa (Identity and cultural dissimilarity) , Istytut Psychologii PAN, Warszawa 1992, pp. 67-69.

33 Fear feature, understood as ”motive or acquired behavioral disposition which makes an individual perceive a wide range of objectively not dangerous situations as threatening and react to them with fear disproportionately strong in relation to objective danger quantity.” The fear of future is understood as emotional states and experiences, anxiety about future events, the feeling of danger because of unfavourable changes in more remote future. Great intensity of this state indicates that a person is afraid that something wrong will happen. K. Wrześniewski (edit), Wybrane zagadnienia lęku: teoria i pomiar (Chosen problems of fear: theory and measurement), Warszawska Akademia Medyczna, Warszawa 1983, p. 395.

34 Cwalina, W.(2005).op. cit., pp. 66-67.

35 Cwalina, W. (2005). Ibid, p 67

36 Cwalina, W.(2005).Ibid, p 68

37 In the literature concerning this problem, this phenomenon is described as “Split-ticket voting”. It consists, for example, in it that in parliamentary elections taking place at the same time, a particular person supports a candidate of one party to the Sejm, however a completely different one, even from an opposition party, to the Senate

38 Cawlina, W.(2005); Ibid, p.69

39 Maruszewski, T. (2001).Teoria poznania: sposoby rozumienia siebie i świata (Learning theory: the ways of understanding oneself and the world), Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, Gdańsk 2001.

40 Cwalina,W. (2005). op. Cit., p. 76

41 Aronson, E. (1997).Człowiek istota społeczna (Man – a social being), Wydawnictwo naukowe PWN, Warszawa 1997, p. 329.

42 One can define it by means of the sentence: “I know which features of a candidate appeal to his/her advocates, I know which speak against him/her. The arguments which prevail make me assess him/her generally positively or negatively. This is what makes me vote in a particular way.”

43 I know that I support and like a candidate. Why? I must think for a while.” W. Cwalina, op. cit., p.76.

44 Cwalina, W. ( 2005).op. cit., p. 77.