Sick of partisanship in Washington? Blame science.
A growing body of experimental research is finding evidence suggesting that, to some degree, political inclinations and ideological leanings may be tied to innate factors like a person’s biology, physiology and genetics.
In fact, Al Gore recently raised the thorny issue when he spoke about political differences in “human nature.”
“I think, first of all, scientists now know that there is, in human nature, a divide between what we sometimes call ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives,’” the former vice president said on MSNBC earlier this year. “And it gives an advantage, you can speculate, to the human species to have some people who are temperamentally inclined to try to change the future, experiment with new things, and others who are temperamentally inclined to say, ‘Wait a minute, not too fast, let’s make sure we don’t do anything rash here.’”
The area of research is relatively new, but researchers say they have already made some startling findings, leaving them with no doubt that they are on the right track. But the nascent field is still struggling to win acceptance in many corners of academia, said Prof. George Marcus of Williams College, an expert in political psychology and the author of the 2012 book “Political Psychology: Neuroscience, Genetics, and Politics.”
Even the terms that different groups of researchers use to describe their own work illustrate the debate over how strong a connection to make between biology and belief: Some use names like “biopolitics” or “genopolitics,” while others don’t go so far, relying instead on broader titles, like “political psychology,” that suggest less of a cause-and-effect.
“Those interested in new work find it exciting,” Marcus told POLITICO. “Those committed to established ways of thinking are pretty much wedded to rejecting it so far…kind of like climate science.”
Marcus, whose book explores the notion that factors like genes and brain make-up help shape ideology, predicted that view will eventually become “the dominant way of thinking about how things go,” though he noted that many questions in the burgeoning area remain unanswered.
Another leading scholar on the subject, Professor John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska, added, “It’s not surprising that there are significant chunks of my colleagues that think it’s not a good way to go…but they’re coming around to it…We’re hoping that Mick Jagger was right: That time is on our side.”
Read more at Politico