Political Predisposition, with John Hibbing

Where do our political beliefs come from? Are they inherent, or a product of our environment? John Hibbing joins Turi for a bonus episode of On Opinion to explain how humans, in part, are biologically predisposed to Left and Right.

S2 E26: Political Predisposition

“40% of the variance observed in political attitudes can be attributed to genetics”

Twin studies have suggested that one third of our political orientation can be traced to our genes. But does that mean our politics are predisposed?

John Hibbing is one of the greats of Political Psychology in the US. His work spans decades and has broken ground across multiple disciplines - from polling and representation, to the biology of political differences. John believes that knowledge of of this genetic influence can help us better understand each other.

“Predispositions are not destiny, but defaults - defaults that can be and frequently are overridden.”

Conservatives and Liberals evolved clear and distinct bedrock values deep in our collective past. Our views of the outsider, our perception of threat, our concern for order may be as innate to us as our sense of taste or our personality traits.

“Politics is universal; it’s human nature that varies”

Recognising how our values differ, and the reasons why we have such different perspectives on what makes for a just and good society is fundamental to the democratic project. Because ultimately, we need both Left and Right to survive.

Listen to John discuss:

  • How taste and politics are linked
  • The core values of conservatism and liberalism
  • Why Left and Right are universal across culture and history
  • whether there is a ‘Liberal’ Gene
  • Why Nature vs Nurture is a meaningless question
  • How to talk to the other side

Read the Full Transcript

John Hibbing

John Hibbing is an American political scientist and Foundation Regents University Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is known for his research on the biological and psychological correlates of political ideology. He is the author of Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives and the Biology of Political Differences

On Opinion is a member of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021 at 13:37 UTC