Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences
John R. Hibbing, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Alford
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Buried in many people and operating largely outside the realm of conscious thought are forces inclining us toward liberal or conservative political convictions. Our biology predisposes us to see and understand the world in different ways, not always reason and the careful consideration of facts. These predispositions are in turn responsible for a significant portion of the political and ideological conflict that marks human history.
With verve and wit, renowned social scientists John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford―pioneers in the field of biopolitics―present overwhelming evidence that people differ politically not just because they grew up in different cultures or were presented with different information. Despite the oft-heard longing for consensus, unity, and peace, the universal rift between conservatives and liberals endures because people have diverse psychological, physiological, and genetic traits. These biological differences influence much of what makes people who they are, including their orientations to politics.
Political disputes typically spring from the assumption that those who do not agree with us are shallow, misguided, uninformed, and ignorant. Predisposed suggests instead that political opponents simply experience, process, and respond to the world differently. It follows, then, that the key to getting along politically is not the ability of one side to persuade the other side to see the error of its ways but rather the ability of each side to see that the other is different, not just politically, but physically. Predisposed will change the way you think about politics and partisan conflict.
As a bonus, the book includes a "Left/Right 20 Questions" game to test whether your predispositions lean liberal or conservative.
Judgments and Decisions.” 18 Schnall et al., “With a Clean Conscience: Cleanliness Reduces the Severity of Moral Judgments”; Inbar et al., “Conservatives Are More Easily Disgusted Than Liberals”; and Inbar et al., “Disgusting Smells Cause Decreased Liking of Gay Men.” 19 Danziger et al., “Extraneous Factors in Judicial Decisions.” 20 Ackerman et al., “Incidental Haptic Sensations Influence Social Judgments and Decisions”; and Helzer and Pizarro, “Dirty Liberals! Reminders of Physical
that individuals vary somewhat in aptitudes, but most people tend to be less willing to accept that differences in attitudes are shaped by similar sorts of forces (things like biological and cognitive dispositions), yet they are. It is a significant adjustment to think of attitudes as products not just of our environments or situations but also of biologically based predispositions; yet attitudes are undeniably based in what people think and feel, and thinking and feeling are undeniably physical
Your DNA 8 The Origin of Subspecies 9 Can Conservaton and Liberalville Survive Together? Appendix Bibliography Index Acknowledgments We wrote a popular rather than an academic book about political predispositions for a reason: We think it is important for a wide range of people to understand why not everyone sees the world the same way they do. Recent scholarly research on biology’s connection to political temperament might increase political understanding by making it easier to deal
and Schwarz and Boehnke, “Evaluating the Structure of Human Values with Confirmatory Factor Analysis.” 37 Olver, “Personality Traits and Personal Values: A Conceptual and Empirical Integration.” 38 Jang et al., “Heritability of the Big Five Personality Dimensions and Their Facets: A Twin Study.” 39 Verhulst et al., “Correlation Not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies.” 40 Krebs, “The Gourmet Ape: Evolution and Human Food Preferences.” 41 Neiman,
specific composition of any given gene can be different from one individual to another. Maybe one person has a gene in which at one locus the nucleotide sequence is ATCG, but another person has a sequence that is ATGC. (This is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP, since only one nucleotide is different.) Or maybe one person has a sequence that reads GTCGTCGTC, but another person’s reads GTCGTC. (This is known as a variable number repeat.) Either way, the result is likely to be