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Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pete Welter

    If you're looking for a Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken political book to help you believe your views are the right and those other people are idiots, this isn't it. Although the topic is politics, this is squarely in the popular science realm, more akin to Thinking, Fast and Slow or Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. For anyone who cares about the psychology of political thought, "Predisposed" is a terrific book and highly recommended. The core finding they explore i If you're looking for a Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken political book to help you believe your views are the right and those other people are idiots, this isn't it. Although the topic is politics, this is squarely in the popular science realm, more akin to Thinking, Fast and Slow or Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. For anyone who cares about the psychology of political thought, "Predisposed" is a terrific book and highly recommended. The core finding they explore is that we (humans) are predisposed, neurobiologically, to view the world in certain ways, and that colors our political leanings in a way that is far more hardwired than standard cultural explanations would have us believe. Although political viewpoints manifest themselves most often as opinions on issues, they show that the roots of our opinions rest on some basic ways in which different people see the world: preference for novelty or tradition, caring more about individuals or one's in-group, how one views rule-breakers or out-group members, whether one is a questioner or respecter of authority. Most importantly, these core differences in attitude have a basis in neurobiological differences that are both genetically and environmentally influenced. People's attitudes for this differences have been tested and measured, and it turns out we are more hardwired than is commonly believed. By providing research-based evidence (some of theirs and a wealth of others) they take the reader on a trip through social psychological research, presenting, questioning and re-examining this work as they go, and applying it towards a context of political thought. Given the biological basis for these attitudes, they also discuss why they might have been selected for evolutionarily, and even more important, why the variance in attitudes continues. Beyond the political element, this book is an excellent survey for the biological roots of social psychology in general. I was particularly interested in their re-interpretations of of the seminal psychology experiments (such as Milgrams shock tests, and Zambardos guards/prisoners), where they point out that although the general results are important, there was very little or no thought put into why there were still differences among the individuals in these experiments. The research on how liberals vs. conservatives approach a learning task was also fascinating given my interest in education. The authors point out continually the level of confidence in various lines of research (and their limitations and criticisms), and stress that as with nearly any psychological research, the results are both on a continuum and probabilistic - meaning there are plenty of exceptions. However, the overall patterns they cite hold at levels beyond just a "maybe" - these are results that are firm and beyond as far as confidence level goes. GIven that this book made me re-examine a number of my ideas about the level of hardwiredness of our views and attitudes, and did it with such a preponderance of evidence, I gave it 5 stars. Two books that I think are tangentially related to this one: The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, which gives a deep view of why diversity in thinking and viewpoints is critical to finding solutions to unwieldy problems, and Free Will which discusses further implications of the idea that our biology drives our thoughts, and what the philosophical and cultural ramifications of that are.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    An important work. This book provides a good case study of the extent to which biological factors can affect the political world. The subtitle is eloquent as to the volume's focus: "Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences." The authors begin by observing that (Page ix): "We think it is important for a wide range of people to understand why not everyone sees the world the same way as they do." The book’s takeoff point is the differences between liberals and conservatives. An important work. This book provides a good case study of the extent to which biological factors can affect the political world. The subtitle is eloquent as to the volume's focus: "Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences." The authors begin by observing that (Page ix): "We think it is important for a wide range of people to understand why not everyone sees the world the same way as they do." The book’s takeoff point is the differences between liberals and conservatives. The authors contend that these people see the world in a fundamentally different way—and are unlikely to, through reason, change the views of the other. Using questionnaire items identifying “What works best” lays out the differences (see the survey items on page 53). Conservatives are more apt to respect tradition, to believe that external codes should guide behavior, to accept that leaders should stick with their values no matter what, understand that then world is a dangerous place and one always has to be ready to defend oneself, and accept that those who do bad things need to be punished. Moreover, society works best when leaders are obeyed, when leaders call the shots, and when leaders adhere to their principles no matter what. Liberals? Pretty much the opposite. In other words, liberals and conservatives see and live within different worlds. And—an important point—twin studies suggest that there is a genetic component to these differences. In this book, unlike some others, the authors do not choose one worldview over the other; their aim is to demonstrate that Ls and Cs live in different worlds (unlike the ubercritical work “The Republican Brain”). Many more differences are put forward. Also, biological aspects of these differences are discussed, including underlying genetics. What would be the reason for genetic differences here? The authors have a ready explanation for this. Whether or not readers will accept that is a separate story. But their hypothesis is certainly reasonable. There is also a lucid description of how the human brain might come into play here. As noted at the outset, this is an important book. The authors take much data that they have access to and make a credible presentation as to the nature of differences between Liberals and Conservatives and some possible bases for these distinctions. If interested in the biology of political differences, this is a good starting point.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ideas Sleep Furiously

    A deeper journey than Haidt. Great to read after The Righteous Mind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Clara

    Normally I don’t bother to finish a book that can’t hook me in the first couple of chapters, but this book was a gift so I was determined to continue. I’m relieved to have finally finished it so I can read something else. Though the premise of the book was compelling, the writing was wordy, repetitive, poorly edited and sophomoric. I was especially put off (despite the authors’ plea at the end) by what I perceived to be a clear liberal slant. Though I lean the same way, it’s difficult to take a Normally I don’t bother to finish a book that can’t hook me in the first couple of chapters, but this book was a gift so I was determined to continue. I’m relieved to have finally finished it so I can read something else. Though the premise of the book was compelling, the writing was wordy, repetitive, poorly edited and sophomoric. I was especially put off (despite the authors’ plea at the end) by what I perceived to be a clear liberal slant. Though I lean the same way, it’s difficult to take a book about respecting the biological predispositions of both parties seriously when the authors make their own beliefs apparent. Finally, nothing illustrates my long battle with finishing this book like ending it on an unedited, incomplete sentence. I wish I would have limited my exposure to this book to the brief interview I heard on Hidden Brain instead of wasting two months... but it was a gift.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Todd Stark

    This is a book I've been waiting for, a competent and nuanced summary of the past decade or so of accumulated research trends in political psychology,. Hibbing addresses the specifics of the research most directly related to politics, and contrasts it specifically with the prior thinking about political reasoning and political ideology. Like Jon Haidt and Josh Greene's recent books, This one draws on recent research into stable individual differences into political thinking, but Hibbing gives a This is a book I've been waiting for, a competent and nuanced summary of the past decade or so of accumulated research trends in political psychology,. Hibbing addresses the specifics of the research most directly related to politics, and contrasts it specifically with the prior thinking about political reasoning and political ideology. Like Jon Haidt and Josh Greene's recent books, This one draws on recent research into stable individual differences into political thinking, but Hibbing gives a little more context, a little broader argument around politics in particular, and examines implications and possible ways to use the information in politics. Not by pretending we can simply see past our different ways of thinking and somehow understand each other, but by accepting that we think differently and drawing on our different ways of thinking more constructively. Particularly welcome here is Hibbing's avoidance of the asymmetry thesis favored by Chris Mooney which makes certain ways of political thinking intrinsically far superior to others, often defeating from the start the sort of constructive approach proposed in this book. Hibbing sometimes seems to take his argument for biologically shaped cognition a little too far to fend off the criticism that political vision is specific to historical and cultural context and the criticism that many of us can think somewhat independently of ideology. I don't think he needs to try to deconstruct those ideas to make his point. Political thinking probably has historically and culturally specific aspects as well as clustering around biological dispositions, and the dispositions seem to vary in strength (which Hibbing emphasizes as well). History and dispositions likely shape each other. Also, party politics and motives of the political class probably do have their own polarizing influence building on the different ways of thinking that are shaped by biological differences.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Maness

    I appreciated this book very much. It brought together social science knowledge I had, frustrations I’ve experienced, along with scientific knowledge that was new to me. The result was a heck of a lot of new questions to ponder when it comes to political dialogue and the larger political process. My attitude toward people on “the other side” of the American political spectrum is already beginning to adjust, although I haven’t had a chance to put it into practice. The conclusions chapter on impli I appreciated this book very much. It brought together social science knowledge I had, frustrations I’ve experienced, along with scientific knowledge that was new to me. The result was a heck of a lot of new questions to ponder when it comes to political dialogue and the larger political process. My attitude toward people on “the other side” of the American political spectrum is already beginning to adjust, although I haven’t had a chance to put it into practice. The conclusions chapter on implications is nice, but ends up hoping for things that don’t seem likely to happen in our political climate. I don’t see a lot of my conservative or liberal friends reading this book, and everyone I know, practically, will find it difficult if not impossible to “accept” political differences because they look and feel so much like issue sod right vs wrong not different vs different. I’m struggling with that aspect as well. Still, I’m very glad I heard one of the authors on the Hidden Mind podcast, and happy I read the book. I know its ideas and challenges will remain with me for a long time. (The Kindle version is annoying because it’s a facsimile, not a made-for-Kindle edition, so it’s tiny on a phone screen and only just big enough [for my middle-aged eyes] on an iPad.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Very intriguing. The authors cite many social experiments and physiological findings that make their case. This was written pre-Trump, but you can certainly see the biological basis for the intractable political divide that we think is new, but really isn't. I'm eager to try out the Left/Right 20 Questions Game among my friends (page 267). While discussing our biological differences, they also point out how we need each other for a functioning society. If we were all alike, what a miserable nati Very intriguing. The authors cite many social experiments and physiological findings that make their case. This was written pre-Trump, but you can certainly see the biological basis for the intractable political divide that we think is new, but really isn't. I'm eager to try out the Left/Right 20 Questions Game among my friends (page 267). While discussing our biological differences, they also point out how we need each other for a functioning society. If we were all alike, what a miserable nation we would be!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This book came on my radar after listening to a podcast called Hidden Brain. The premise is that differences between liberals and conservatives are -- overall, just probabilistically -- biological. The majority of the book is describing all the research. Sounds boring but for the most part it was very interesting to read. But the payoff for me was in the last chapter where they put it altogether. I wish everyone would read this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I looked up this book after listening to an episode of the podcast Hidden Brain "Nature, Nurture and Your Politics". This is an absolutely fascinating discussion of the research on why a human might be a conservative or a liberal. The book is written so well and with such compassion and humor, that I found it hard to put down. The science behind the book is complex, but explained clearly and with provisos about how to interpret what it says. I looked up this book after listening to an episode of the podcast Hidden Brain "Nature, Nurture and Your Politics". This is an absolutely fascinating discussion of the research on why a human might be a conservative or a liberal. The book is written so well and with such compassion and humor, that I found it hard to put down. The science behind the book is complex, but explained clearly and with provisos about how to interpret what it says.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kaycee

    This book was highly informative and taught me a lot. However, I was upset with how this book seemed to focus on conservatives and liberals who are high on the socio-economic ladder. I felt that minorities and people who has less than a college degree were left out of the book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    CM

    An accessible survey to the study of political difference in terms of biology and psychology. The authors development their argument by building a foundation in social science for the readers and then tracing a number of differences between liberals and conservatives (taste,thought pattern, sensitivity to negative scenario) to support their claim. They even give a short course in evolutionary psychology to explain the origins of political differences. The claim: Political inclination is also one o An accessible survey to the study of political difference in terms of biology and psychology. The authors development their argument by building a foundation in social science for the readers and then tracing a number of differences between liberals and conservatives (taste,thought pattern, sensitivity to negative scenario) to support their claim. They even give a short course in evolutionary psychology to explain the origins of political differences. The claim: Political inclination is also one of the many attributes influenced by our genetics. Yet, it is not biological determinism but more a interaction between the biology and environment. The implications? You can't change (some of) them, accept the difference and work with them. The rating: The presentation is fine but with a topic like politics, better writers can present a more gripping narrative*. It's also one of the rare books where the author seems to be ABSOLUTELY impartial to party politics. While they are, repetitively, open to their own limitations(their modest effect size and the probabilistic nature of social science), I am a bit put off when they decided not to respond to their own critics here**. I also have a vague feeling that they are actually explaining the biology of the "openness to experience"*** trait, not political difference. * They are doing quite well as psychology professors and political scientists go. ** Search "Twin Studies of Political Behavior: Untenable Assumptions?" ***"Openness to experience" is one of the big 5 personality traits. Its correlation to liberalism and moderately high heritability are known to scientists for some time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sharon C. Robideaux

    Brisk interesting read Hibbing makes a good case for genetically influenced predispositions to either a conservative or liberal worldview. I believe the argument has a lot of potential to explain these political divides. He wisely does not belittle the Environment/Nurture point of view, but shows how it complements the Innate/Nature viewpoint. The touches of humor add readability to segments that are technical and dense. The organization worked for me, as well. I have only two minor issues. The m Brisk interesting read Hibbing makes a good case for genetically influenced predispositions to either a conservative or liberal worldview. I believe the argument has a lot of potential to explain these political divides. He wisely does not belittle the Environment/Nurture point of view, but shows how it complements the Innate/Nature viewpoint. The touches of humor add readability to segments that are technical and dense. The organization worked for me, as well. I have only two minor issues. The most minor is a recurring typographical oddity. First words of sentences that began with Th (like This, These, That, etc.) appeared as TV + another word, for example "TV is" rather than "This." The other minor quibble is a sense of being rushed at the end of the book. It was as if the author realized suddenly that he had reached his page limit. However, this book is a worthwhile read, and I look forward to seeing if its premise passes the test of further research.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve Howell

    Worth reading if interested in political leanings Overall, this was an enjoyable book. Obviously intended for the mass market, but plenty of peer reviewed studies were discussed and referenced, and it has good footnotes and bibliography. The authors repeatedly told us how they had no agenda, and that their personal ideologies are irrelevant to their findings. Of course, it is nearly impossible to pull that off over the course of an entire book, and their choices of examples and phraseology betray Worth reading if interested in political leanings Overall, this was an enjoyable book. Obviously intended for the mass market, but plenty of peer reviewed studies were discussed and referenced, and it has good footnotes and bibliography. The authors repeatedly told us how they had no agenda, and that their personal ideologies are irrelevant to their findings. Of course, it is nearly impossible to pull that off over the course of an entire book, and their choices of examples and phraseology betrayed them at times, but the core concept that people's political leanings are genetically predisposed (not predestined), still came through. Be aware, if buying this to read on a Kindle device, that they did not bother to convert it to Kindle format - it is a "print replica" book, which can be quite annoying to deal with.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rayann Reid

    I think this is an important book, because it goes against the idea that the right or the left is superior to the other. At the base of the problem, we think differently due to many factors in our biology and our environment. The problem I had with this book was that it seems incredibly drawn out, and it is quite dry for the most part. The authors attempt to add humor throughout, but much of it is describing studies done on various topics that could relate to differences in political belief. Per I think this is an important book, because it goes against the idea that the right or the left is superior to the other. At the base of the problem, we think differently due to many factors in our biology and our environment. The problem I had with this book was that it seems incredibly drawn out, and it is quite dry for the most part. The authors attempt to add humor throughout, but much of it is describing studies done on various topics that could relate to differences in political belief. Perhaps I could have enjoyed this book more if I had been able to go through it at my own pace. Would recommend for those interested in psychology/sociology and anyone who is very strongly right or left, especially if they hold very negative and hateful feelings toward the other side.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David Walsh

    The book "Predisposed" gives us a clear idea on how our minds predisposition to certain beliefs are influenced by our genetics. The diversification of these predispositions in the right proportions in our society benefited mankind's evolution, allowing it to get to the social scale that exists today. For those of you that would like a quick overview of the book, I would encourage you to watch the attached speech by one of the authors John Hibbing. The first 29 minutes of the video are focused on The book "Predisposed" gives us a clear idea on how our minds predisposition to certain beliefs are influenced by our genetics. The diversification of these predispositions in the right proportions in our society benefited mankind's evolution, allowing it to get to the social scale that exists today. For those of you that would like a quick overview of the book, I would encourage you to watch the attached speech by one of the authors John Hibbing. The first 29 minutes of the video are focused on providing the evidence on how liberals and conservatives differ. The remainder of the video is focused on its conclusions. https://youtu.be/1uq-kxDrZYU

  16. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Emerson

    As a self proclaimed science geek, I found the data analyses and interpretations helpful in describing the conservative and liberal biological phenotypes. I have a far better understanding of myself and others politically. The implications however are harder personally. Like exercise, they require time and effort. I may not be up to that. Great read. However, the fact the the editor didn't catch the error in the last line of the book, requiring a loose page erratum addition, is just plain tacky. As a self proclaimed science geek, I found the data analyses and interpretations helpful in describing the conservative and liberal biological phenotypes. I have a far better understanding of myself and others politically. The implications however are harder personally. Like exercise, they require time and effort. I may not be up to that. Great read. However, the fact the the editor didn't catch the error in the last line of the book, requiring a loose page erratum addition, is just plain tacky. Sorry, my biological predisposition is showing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie

    I couldn't even finish this one. (Goodreads should have that option to choose too other than read or want to read) I got two chapters in and after numerous statements by the authors such as nothing is fixed, everyone is different and can change over time depending on where, when, and how they have had experiences...etc., it's clear the title of the book is one of those "gotcha" hooks. Skipping ahead they ended the book in the same way, everyone is different and influenced by a myriad of things.. I couldn't even finish this one. (Goodreads should have that option to choose too other than read or want to read) I got two chapters in and after numerous statements by the authors such as nothing is fixed, everyone is different and can change over time depending on where, when, and how they have had experiences...etc., it's clear the title of the book is one of those "gotcha" hooks. Skipping ahead they ended the book in the same way, everyone is different and influenced by a myriad of things...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lasse Birk Olesen

    Replicated empirical studies show that biology, including genetics, affects political and moral positions. Democrats should not expect to convince most conservatives of their viewpoints or vice versa. Growing recognition that homosexuality is partly heritable gave rise to growing acceptance of homosexuality. Likewise, recognising that political observation is partly heritable can give rise to more understanding and less hatred between political groups.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    dragged a little in its explanations of scientific concepts, though it’s probably good that the authors took so many measures to avoid misinterpretation. also this book was not written in a way that made me feel convinced of the science it cited...but i think that was in part intentional? enjoyable and enlightening regardless

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen Schnakenberg

    Interesting argument that something like 40% of each person's political predisposition is genetically determined. The argument seems to work to that point, but the interpretation given to this phenomenon and its significance is less convincing. Interesting argument that something like 40% of each person's political predisposition is genetically determined. The argument seems to work to that point, but the interpretation given to this phenomenon and its significance is less convincing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie Moore

    Interesting insight into the biology between liberals and conservatives. Everyone views the world through a different lens.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ko Matsuo

    This is an fascinating book. Hibbing argues that our political differences have some basis in our biological makeup, which is why conservatives and liberals can't get along. "Liberals and conservatives often are reluctant to accept that their differences are rooted in psychology, let alone biology. Their own political beliefs seem so sensible, rational, and correct that they have difficulty believing that other people, if given full information and protected from nefarious and artificial influenc This is an fascinating book. Hibbing argues that our political differences have some basis in our biological makeup, which is why conservatives and liberals can't get along. "Liberals and conservatives often are reluctant to accept that their differences are rooted in psychology, let alone biology. Their own political beliefs seem so sensible, rational, and correct that they have difficulty believing that other people, if given full information and protected from nefarious and artificial influences, would arrive at different beliefs." As a result, "Whether the topic is climate change, evolution, genetically modified foods, or the biological basis of political beliefs, people are quick these days to apply the label of junk science to research on controversial matters. The implication is that some research is driven by special interests and hidden agendas to such an extent that it cannot be considered real science or, more likely, that some topics are simply not suitable for science." Eye opening and controversial topic. The book itself is somewhat difficult to read as the author takes time to develop some topics.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Dense textbook on biology behind political differences. So many studies that I skimmed through. Incomplete last sentence is a glaring editorial error.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hamid Arbabi

    Very interesting ideas and pointers, organization of thoughts and writing within chapters could be better.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    A nuanced, impartial presentation of recent psychological and scientific evidence that biological predispositions drive--though don’t necessarily determine--political passions (or lack of them). Because of these predispositions, those at one end of the political spectrum literally experience the world differently than those at the other, and so they reach different political conclusions based on those experiences. The writing is accessible, frequently humorous, articulate, and informative. The a A nuanced, impartial presentation of recent psychological and scientific evidence that biological predispositions drive--though don’t necessarily determine--political passions (or lack of them). Because of these predispositions, those at one end of the political spectrum literally experience the world differently than those at the other, and so they reach different political conclusions based on those experiences. The writing is accessible, frequently humorous, articulate, and informative. The authors are very careful to repeatedly say that neither end of the spectrum is better than the other, the point instead being that the ends are inherently different so the goal shouldn’t be changing the other side but understanding and appreciating it. I highly recommend the book. ----- Those with predispositions counter to yours do not see what you see, fear what you fear, love what you love, smell what you smell, remember what you remember, taste what you taste, want what you want, or think how you think. These differences run so deep that they are biologically grounded and, as such, cannot be changed quickly. Since political beliefs flow out of these predispositions, this means that they, too, cannot be changed quickly. It is our conviction that making an effort to understand the nature and depth of political mindsets will be beneficial since it is always good to better appreciate those with whom we are sharing the planet. Just as learning a second language assists in coming to grips with your native tongue by putting aspects of language in perspective, learning a second political orientation also puts your native orientation in perspective and deepens understanding. In addition to self-improvement, taking predispositions seriously can improve understanding of others and therefore can enhance the state of political discourse. Recognizing that the maddeningly incorrect views of your political opponents are due less to their unencumbered choices than to traits they have little choice but to endure cannot help but increase tolerance and acceptance. Think of the improvements resulting from the recognition that being left-handed is not a choice resulting from flawed character but instead is the product of a biological (in this case heritable) disposition. Teachers are no longer disrupting classrooms and wasting time (not to mention demeaning 12 percent of the student body) by trying to beat the left-handedness out of left-handers. The entire learning environment has improved as a result. We look forward to the day when liberals are not trying to beat the conservative out of conservatives and conservatives are not trying to beat the liberal out of liberals, as we believe parallel improvements in the political system will be in evidence. . . . This kind of acceptance directed at predispositionally driven variations in political beliefs would not mean you have become a traitor to the cause. We need to get past the stage where liberals/conservatives are in a contest to show that they are the most outraged by their ideological opponents. It would not even mean that you were any less convinced that your political opponents are wrong. You would just be acknowledging that the reason they are wrong is largely beyond their control. This in itself is a major step forward. Accept that the main reason your political opponents hold the views they do is not laziness, a lack of information, or willful bad judgment, but rather physiological and psychological contours that are fundamentally different from yours. If you had the same predispositions they do, it is likely you would have political opinions similar to theirs. Whenever you meet a conservative/liberal your response should not be, “What a shallow idiot,” but “There but for the grace of God go I.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alan Marchant

    Note 2019. Hibbings published studies upon which this book is based have been independently reproduced and his conclusions are found to be entirely false. Until he is willing to retract his errors in some fashion, his published works do not deserve any recommendation. "Predisposed" is a survey of research studies demonstrating that biological elements of human nature (including genetics, neural structure, and developmental forces) influence individual political preferences. It is essentially a mo Note 2019. Hibbings published studies upon which this book is based have been independently reproduced and his conclusions are found to be entirely false. Until he is willing to retract his errors in some fashion, his published works do not deserve any recommendation. "Predisposed" is a survey of research studies demonstrating that biological elements of human nature (including genetics, neural structure, and developmental forces) influence individual political preferences. It is essentially a more narrowly focused and accessible version of The Blank Slate (S. Pinker). The strong scientific core of the book is weakened by ham-handed attempts at popularization (e.g. "narrower musical interests" becomes a "love of elevator music") and by the later chapters that turn to speculations favoring the interests of political science professionals. While recognizing that major political variations may occur along multiple axes, the authors limit their research and discussion to a single political axis - social conservatism vs. social liberalism, otherwise described as traditionalism vs. openness. They justify this limitation because attitudes about ideal scope of government or individuality vs. interest groups are too recent to reflect underlying biological variances. But much of the research reported here relates to human evolution - and the ideological conflicts between the fields of evolutionary psychology (claiming non-heritability of higher functions) vs. sociobiology (Darwinists). Since evolution is such an important aspect of the discussion, it's disappointing that the authors don't take ideas about recent human evolution more seriously. For example, their personality studies are limited to the "big five" traits, implicitly ignoring other traits such as in-group size and insularity that could relate to urbanization and other evolving aspects of society.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Hoschar

    good for psych, socio, poly sci good info, language is good... so could be used in a college / adult setting... too deep for high school. 84-86 liberal toward gay 117 minor sexual 204 "accepting the fact of evolution" ... argh.. examples given are for MICRO evolution, NOT macro. Then on 207 after listing these micro items, that "is all it takes for 'humans to develop from earlier animals." Again, confuses macro with micro. 224-25 " A mix of ...those welcoming and not-so-welcoming to out-groups [which good for psych, socio, poly sci good info, language is good... so could be used in a college / adult setting... too deep for high school. 84-86 liberal toward gay 117 minor sexual 204 "accepting the fact of evolution" ... argh.. examples given are for MICRO evolution, NOT macro. Then on 207 after listing these micro items, that "is all it takes for 'humans to develop from earlier animals." Again, confuses macro with micro. 224-25 " A mix of ...those welcoming and not-so-welcoming to out-groups [which could include gays] might make for a stronger social group compared to a group entirely made up of one type or the other." Good point. 253: footnote references LeVay... but I believe his research had biased flaws. 255 bottom : "So believe in your opinions..." sure makes it sound like there is no absolute truth. BUT, that is not the necessary conclusion of their research. Good book... just don't have to reach that conclusion. 263 dispositional tendencies: "they structure your attitudes and behaviors but do not predetermine them." Supports my understanding of homosexuality... quiz at end: scored 13... so somewhat right of center, but moderate... interesting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    This is a book that should be read by everyone who is interested in politics, especially if you are strongly Liberal or Conservative. This book is surprisingly neutral in its treatment of the political divide, and makes it very clear that neither Liberals nor Conservatives are inherently better, they are just different. In fact, due to underlying biological and genetic differences, Liberals and Conservatives actually see a different world from each other. This goes far in explaining why it is es This is a book that should be read by everyone who is interested in politics, especially if you are strongly Liberal or Conservative. This book is surprisingly neutral in its treatment of the political divide, and makes it very clear that neither Liberals nor Conservatives are inherently better, they are just different. In fact, due to underlying biological and genetic differences, Liberals and Conservatives actually see a different world from each other. This goes far in explaining why it is essentially impossible to reason across the divide and change the mind of the opposing side--it is more about predispositions than facts. This book will not likely help lessen the partisan divide, but it should at least help people understand why those on the other side think and believe the way they do. They are not stupid or lacking in common sense, they just respond differently to many stimuli and see the world as a different place. Fascinating and challenging ideas.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Burt Schoeppe

    Nothing could epitomize my problems with this book better than the mistake in editing in the last sentence of the book. In that sentence the final sentence fragment is missing. This makes the sentence difficult to read and confusing. That is a pretty fair summation of the book. There are a bunch of random examples from biology, politics or various points in history strung together. If properly edited this book could have weaved together those examples in an interesting and insightful manner. It d Nothing could epitomize my problems with this book better than the mistake in editing in the last sentence of the book. In that sentence the final sentence fragment is missing. This makes the sentence difficult to read and confusing. That is a pretty fair summation of the book. There are a bunch of random examples from biology, politics or various points in history strung together. If properly edited this book could have weaved together those examples in an interesting and insightful manner. It doesn't really add to the understanding of predisposition to political beliefs for any but the non-scientist. For the reader with an interest in politics it does provide insight into the basic premise of the book that much of the conservative/liberal divide is indeed due to the nature side of the argument. If the audience is really the scientist with an interest in politics it hits the mark. For anyone else it is not very good. The book doesn't provide a compelling narrative at all.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alisha S

    This book was absolutely wonderful. It presented interesting studies proving that there are certain tendencies/traits that conservatives/liberals have and that these traits have some biological root. It was well written, funny, and presented the science in a clear way that made it easy for anyone to understand. I learned a lot from this book and I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if you're not particularly interested in politics I think you'll enjoy it as it touches upon basic human nature an This book was absolutely wonderful. It presented interesting studies proving that there are certain tendencies/traits that conservatives/liberals have and that these traits have some biological root. It was well written, funny, and presented the science in a clear way that made it easy for anyone to understand. I learned a lot from this book and I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if you're not particularly interested in politics I think you'll enjoy it as it touches upon basic human nature and includes some very cool studies. All in all, a wonderful book!

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