Fathali Moghaddam
News Story

International Society of Political Psychology Awards Georgetown Professor Lifetime Achievement Award

Department of Psychology professor Fathali Moghaddam was awarded the 2020 Harold Lasswell Award from the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) for his lifetime of distinguished contributions in the field of political psychology.

He was unanimously selected for the award from the most prestigious international scientific organization committed to researching political behavior.

“This prize from the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) is a great honor for me for many reasons, not the least of which being that the Lasswell prize from the ISPP is the highest honor in my area of expertise,” Moghaddam says.

Interdisciplinary Learning

The Harold Lasswell award is named for one of the first individuals to apply psychology to the study of political science. Because interdisciplinary learning was a novel concept at the time, Lasswell’s ideas were not taken seriously until much later. 

Today, ISSP, which includes both political scientists and psychologists, parallels Moghaddam’s interdisciplinary research at Georgetown on the cognitive foundations of political behavior.

The Iranian psychologist has frequently worked across departments and programs throughout his time at the university. 

While an affiliated professor of psychology in the Department of Government, he served as director of the department’s Conflict Resolution Program. He currently oversees the Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science.  

The minor requires undergraduate students to engage with other areas of study such as linguistics, philosophy, law, psychology and neuroscience.

Democracies, Not Dictators 

Moghaddam says it is more important now than ever to collaborate across fields to understand the science behind political behavior. 

In his latest book, Threat to Democracy: The Appeal of Authoritarianism in an Age of Uncertainty, he describes the attack on open society and emphasizes the need for more research “to help counter this clear and present danger.”

“This research really matters,” Moghaddam explains. “I have suffered living in a dictatorship, and I want to do all I can to make sure democracies rather than dictatorships come out as winners by the end of the 21st century.”

Embracing perspectives across traditional academic disciplines is increasingly important in our global world. Georgetown College Dean Chris Celenza says “different approaches more often lead to a more enlightened understanding of our world.”

“Professor Moghaddam has made enormous contributions to areas like war, dictatorship and international security by applying psychology, and has ultimately helped us move closer to understanding what makes us function as a society,”  Celenza adds. “I am delighted to see the International Society of Political Psychology recognize Ali Moghaddam for his brilliant work and honored to count him as part of our faculty.”

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)