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Political psychology alum on how ASU affected his approach to politics

Portrait of Joe Magestro.

Joe Magestro

February 21, 2023

Joe Magestro has already seen how his recent degree is shaping the way he approaches his work. 

The recent alum of ASU Online’s Master of Arts in political psychology, offered through the School of Politics and Global Studies and the Department of Psychology, is now a research assistant in the Wisconsin Legislature — a title he describes as "a fancy way to say (he) is the chief of staff for a particular representative.” 

In his role, Magestro handles a broad scope of duties including operations, communications, engaging with constituents' research and advising on policy and strategy.

“As expected in the political field, it can be rather chaotic and demanding,” said Magestro. “The skills I learned throughout my time at ASU prepared me to apply evidence-based strategies to help my boss succeed while constantly in the public eye.” 

Magestro shared that he enjoyed having his program be fully online. 

“The professors and staff were extremely helpful and made each class enjoyable. The asynchronous program was incredibly flexible and allowed me to still work full time while going to school.”

He noted that he loved several of the courses he took while pursuing this degree but that PPS 512: Political Polarization was his favorite. 

“We dug deep into the psychology of polarized attitudes in American politics and the debate over whether Americans are as polarized as we tend to think,” said Magestro. 

“It was quite a roller coaster of a class, but it forced me to question my own biases and approaches to understanding voters' behavior.” 

He also mentioned that he actively employs things he learned throughout his time at ASU regularly in his career.

“The political field requires you to know a wide variety of things to succeed, and each class offered useful information that immediately transferred to my full-time work.” 

He specifically called out his Attitudes and Persuasion class (PPS 504) as well as his Campaigns and Elections class (PPS 514), saying that they “have been extremely helpful in (his) work dealing with campaigns and political communication.”

Prior to receiving his degree, Magestro found much of what he was told while working in politics to be less than helpful in his career, as much of it was anecdotal rather than fact-driven. 

To those interested in campaigns, advocacy or legislative work, he highly encourages taking a political psychology program like the one at ASU. 

“If you do, come with an open mind, because your prior beliefs about politics will be challenged," Magestro said. "If you are willing to learn a new approach to politics, as someone who has worked both in campaigns and our state Legislature, I guarantee what you learn will directly apply to what you do in the political field.” 

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