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Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The first book to tell the natural history of political orientations. 

     Our Political Nature is the first book to reveal the hidden roots of our most deeply held moral values. It shows how political orientations across space and time arise from three clusters of measurable personality traits. These clusters entail opposing attitudes toward tribalism, inequality, and d
Hardcover, 543 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Prometheus Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Many books have noted the biological roots of political orientation. I just reviewed a book predisposed which has covered most of the cognitive and social science research on personality research and political orientation. The variation is there and the consensus is building that much of our political predispositions are inherited at birth. The research on this is fascinating with conservatives having a negativity bias, higher tolerance of inequality, higher disgust sensitivity, a higher level o ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
"Our Political Nature shows us that there are evolutionary underpinnings to our political attitudes, and that being liberal or conservative may reflect much deeper tendencies than we are inclined to think. This book is important reading for anyone trying to understand the sources of our present-day political world."

- FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, New York Times-bestselling author of The Origins of Political Order


"In a remarkable interdisciplinary tour de force, evolutionary anthropologist
Teresa Buczinsky
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I will not be surprised if this book makes many readers uncomfortable. There will be accusations of "biological determinism" and "scientific reductionism" that will allow some to dismiss Tuschman's approach altogether. But that would be a shame. This book's conclusions about our political nature, drawn from wide-ranging research in anthropology, evolutionary biology and political history, acquaint readers with human nature in all its shame and glory. Here we see ourselves as a species behaving i ...more
Katie W
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book attempts to find the evolutionary or biological reasons for varying politican dispositions. It does this extremely well. This book is one of the most illuminating I have ever read. It's one of those books that make you wish that everybody would read it. I like how the author refuses to dismiss either side of the political spectrum as 'evil' or 'naive', which so many do. He encourages both sides of the spectrum to try and see the validity in the others' side.

As others have said, it can
Igor Faynshteyn
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
The thesis of the book is that the genes play as important a role, if not more important, in determining our politics (i.e. party affiliation, ideology, etc.) as does our upbringing, social interactions, education, etc. - the environment, generally speaking. The underlying presumption here is that in mature democracies there develops an ideological coherence, where people unite behind common political principles and goals, and share common beliefs and stances on political and social issues. It i ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Very hard to rate this book. I think the subject matter is fascinating and not seriously written about enough.Tuschsman has clearly worked hard on this book and has done a ton of academic research for it, and he's not a bad writer. But... I think he's overly ambitious with the scope of the book, and it shows, because some sections are very weak. In some parts he seems scrupulously scientific, but in other parts he makes sweeping statements based on what seems like little evidence. Also, the copy ...more
John Grange
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed the detail and breadth of information and analysis that went into this book. The author teaters on the edge of bilogical determinism, which will draw criticism from some. I absolutely recommend this book.
Don-E Merson
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, probably the best I read this year.
Jurij Fedorov
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After having read a ton of books that are half personal opinions half science this is a breath of fresh air! It's not a must-read-right-this-moment for all people as there are a few experiments and findings that are not as conclusive as they are presented in the book. But it's a great book for sure. Anyone with a working brain should have this book on their "to read" list. Until it is replaced by something even better that is. Which hopefully will be in the next 10 years.


There are a lot of g
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was genuinely surprised at how much I learned from this book, considering I have read some of the material this one pulls from. Instead of a rehash, Tuschman put his own polish on the information gleaned and gives us a well written tome. The interesting tug-of-war of different aspects, biological and environmental, that shape everyone's political nature is clearly conveyed. It helped me understand people I disagree with better, especially parents and siblings. The conclusion was an excellent s ...more
Pavlo Illiashenko
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Everybody is expert regarding politics, right?

With all my modesty, I can say that I knew at least something about politics because of exposure to behavioral and cognitive science of decision making more broadly, and because of my exposure to modern studies of morality, values, evolution, human origins and history. However, after reading the book I felt that I knew almost nothing.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting look into liberalism and conservatism from biological, psychological and evolutionary roots, and how similar the extremes really are. A bit dry in the middle, but overall a great book
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My review on this book is up on my YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure, as I don't like writing book reviews:
Bradley Jarvis
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
"Our Political Nature" is a sweeping survey of the current state of knowledge and understanding about what shapes people's political orientations and behaviors. Informative and authoritative, it probes basic questions and the consequences of their answers, while assessing and testing the validity of what results.

Written in an accessible, engaging narrative, it does an excellent job of weaving together research from several disciplines, describing basic concepts, relationships, and the chains of
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Crystal-clear, fact-based explanation of evolutionary psychology for everyday people--arguably the best popular, non-partisan book on this topic since Robert Wright’s “The Moral Animal," which remains a classic in the popular science literature. Narration of the audiobook version is brilliant.

“Our Political Nature” is not only about politics, but it is definitely essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the measurable factors that compel us to vote the way we do. Most people will b
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Considering what we have just gone through, this book might help in understanding human nature and political practices which seem difficult to understand on the surface. I can’t say I am enough of an expert on the subjects to evaluate each and every point made in the book, but it is surely thought provoking. An important read for academics but it would also of interest to intelligent and thoughtful people who are not involved in social science research. Although the author might show a little an ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The author provides convincing explanation of human nature, and argues that a population of humans with some having a "liberal" outlook and others having a "conservative" outlook is inevitable.

The insights I've gained echo in my mind whenever I watch the News, and I feel like an ancient chemist who's been presented for the first time with Mendeleev's Periodic Table of the Elements. What used to seem like random bickering among factions now appears to make sense, to the extent that it all arises
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've now read this book twice. I'm looking to find it in Spanish, and will read it again when I do.

It has changed the way I understand the world. Things that did not always make sense, like the black conservative sheriff who fights the white more-liberal police chief in his town, or poor people who support tax cuts for the rich (as well as rich people who support higher taxes).

This book is a real eye-opener, backed by science—particularly genetics.

I sure hope I can find it in Spanish!
Leif Denti
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was hard to rate this book. Subject matter is well researched and presented, however I felt many times that the book dragged on with "padding" text. The book could have been stronger with some editing. Also, Tushman's own conclusions and parallels were a bit under developed (his arguments not presented very coherently, I thought). So, not a true five star rating perhaps but a strong four. I still found it fascinating so I can definitely recommend the book.
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is long and dense; it's not for the faint of heart. Of books I've read on related matters, this is not my favorite, but it's good. The author is clearly quite the scholar, sprinkling in a mix of social sciences (political science, sociology, anthropology, history), and tackles a tremendous breadth of topics, sometimes to his detriment.

The book attempts to explains the roots of left-right political ideology. He uses a cross-cultural measure called the RWA score to approximate that spec
Kathy Jo
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Given the incredible breadth covered in this book, and the effort it must have taken to bring it together into a coherent whole, I can somewhat forgive the author for various leaps in logic, questionable assertions of cause vs. effect, and even monumental oversimplifications of the nature of religion and our relationships with it. Fueled by various studies and wide-ranging research, the author is successful in making the case that, among a complex variety of factors, our genetics plays a signifi ...more
Yanick Punter
I'm excited about this book and the research around it. I've read a few other books and this review is an excuse to think about those as well. Tuschman says:

"Openness and Conscientiousness, as we've learned, are the personality dimensions that best correlate with left-right voting in human beings."

When I think openness, I quickly think of schizotypy, creativity and what Bernard Crespi calls the psychotic-affective spectrum. That is not to say that all those within those high on openness are inde
Apr 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
A synthesis of decades of research across several disciplines used to pontificate and cherry-pick via artificial chapters and sub-chapters, brilliantly described by one reviewer as seeming to dive down from one obscure rabbit hole to another.

Tuschman is clearly left-wing (though not even as left-wing as I am) and yet, he still managed to annoy me. What led me to DNF this book was reading a comment in this review:

"The author doesn't introduce any original r
Noah Graham
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
According to this book most political conflict boils down to 2 competing instincts; ethnocentrism (including a desire to keep ones tribal blood pure)on the right, and xenophilia (a contradictory desire to mix ones blood with members of other tribes) on the left. If the NDPs secret agenda was in fact to help guys like me connect with ethnically diverse women then I seriously voted for the wrong parties in most elections.
Alan Newton
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever written. Packed full of research. Extremely insightful and eye opening across a range of topics, from why we vote the way we do, down to, for example, sexual preference in respect to inbreeding and outbreeding
Corey Astill
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Tuschman presents some fascinating research related to voting patterns. But he bites off much more than he can chew. Every sub-chapter seemed to dive down yet another obscure rabbit hole.
Seth Gibson
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, favorites
Achieves what it says it does
Jovany Agathe
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The fact that this kind of division is universally present in all cultures hints at a deeper grounding in human nature.
Martin Screeton
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hell of a study of mankind and his/her political orientations... I particularly liked the study from the University of Berkeley Professors on the "The Authoritarian Personality" (1950) in studying Nazi Germany ... since we are seemingly reliving that portion of history in America... right now... today. They identified nine traits of the followers of Nazism that are shockingly found today in the trump administration and among their followers of course. The identified Nine traits:
(1) Conventional
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-justice
I read most of this, but not all of it, so that could be why I still have some unanswered questions. I did not find myself convinced by all of the author's assertions. However, it's likely that he just sees the world through an economic, more mathematical lens than I, while my world is shaped by social and interpersonal concerns to a greater degree. I wanted to find out more about why there are political conflicts in so many families, but I didn't get a compelling answer. I don't think birth ord ...more
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Avi Tuschman is an expert on the hidden roots of political orientation. He began his career in politics as the youngest advisor in the government palace in Lima, at age 23. While serving as the senior writer to President Alejandro Toledo (Peru, 2001-2006), Tuschman produced numerous articles and speeches designed to shape public opinion. In 2009, Dr. Tuschman joined with Toledo and seventeen other ...more

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47 likes · 12 comments
“From different perspectives, I will show how political orientations across space and time arise from three clusters of measurable personality traits. The three clusters entail opposing attitudes toward tribalism, inequality, and differing perceptions of human nature. Together, these traits are by far the most powerful cause of left-right voting, even leading people to regularly vote against their economic interests.” 2 likes
“This chapter has shown why it's evolutionarily adaptive for humans to have a distorted perception of reality, such that people believe themselves to be more altruistic than they actually are. Our “self-deceptive altruism” helps explain the substantial confusion over the nature of human nature. It also sheds light on why political scandals perpetually shock both the public and the perpetrators themselves. Finally, self-deception over self-interest explains the similarities in authoritarian governments on both extremes of the spectrum.” 2 likes
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