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Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us

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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 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. 

     As this book explains, our political personalities also influence our likely choice of a mate, and shape society's larger reproductive patterns. Most importantly of all, it tells the evolutionary stories of these crucial personality traits, which stem from epic biological conflicts.

     Based on dozens of exciting new insights from primatology, genetics, neuroscience, and anthropology, this groundbreaking work brings core concepts to life through current news stories and personalities. For instance, readers will meet Glenn Beck and Hugo Chavez and come to understand the underlying evolutionary forces they represent. By blending serious research with relevant contemporary examples, Our Political Nature casts important light onto the ideological clashes that so dangerously divide and imperil our world today.

543 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Avi Tuschman

1 book25 followers
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 former presidents to co-write a regional policy agenda on democratic governance. United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon lauded the document and called it historically unprecedented.

Tuschman holds a doctorate in evolutionary anthropology from Stanford University. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Hindi, and Quechua, and has dabbled in Tibetan and Chinese. He is based in Washington, DC, but surfs at home in Northern California as often as possible.

For more information, please visit www.OurPoliticalNature.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 43 reviews
Profile Image for Avi.
Author 1 book25 followers
November 25, 2013
"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 Avi Tuschman integrates findings from social psychology, genetics, and neuroscience to provide a rich understanding of the polarization in politics throughout history, and of man’s inhumanity to man. In Our Political Nature he makes clear that be it vote choice or the decision to go to war, our politics are the product of the passions that drive us, which are deeply rooted in humanity’s evolutionary origins."

- JERROLD M. POST, MD, Director, Political Psychology Program at the George Washington University, and author of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World


"At a time when unexpected political turmoil and economic crashes have exposed how feeble is our understanding of the forces that drive these crises, Our Political Nature provides a welcome respite from the intellectual confusion now reigning. In these pages Avi Tuschman offers a fascinating perspective on the deepest roots of the clashes that are changing our world."

- MOISÉS NAÍM, Author of The End of Power and former editor in chief of Foreign Policy


"Political pundits on the left and right are rushing to grab pieces of Our Political Nature to substantiate their own biases, and this is understandable enough: this is a book of stunning scope and importance. The canvas here is global, and to put it bluntly I've never read anything this fascinating or compelling. I suspect this book will be a cause for heated debate in political and intellectual circles for a long time to come."

- PAUL CHUTKOW, Author and journalist


"Think of this book as the next step after Jonathan Haidt."

- TYLER COWEN, Professor of Economics, George Mason University


"The first book I’ve read that credibly attempts to present a unified view of political science, anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, and primatology. ...offers a penetrating explanation for why Americans (and the rest of the world) vote on a left-right spectrum, even against self and economic interest."



"A tour de force interdisciplinary work of cross-cultural insights that is at the same time disquieting, stimulating, and hopeful in its observations about humankind's evolutionary heritage and future. ...this book may provide the starting point for the political equivalent of the American Psychology Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by allowing citizens to identify extremists on both sides of the political spectrum. And sadly, this may be an increasingly necessary tool."

- PATRICK A. STEWART, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Arkansas, and author of Debatable Humor: Laughing Matters on the 2008 Presidential Primary Campaign


"Tuschman's book will change the way you see yourself, the way you hear the news, and perhaps the way you behave as a political agent. We are living in a time of alarming partisanship, but Tuschman's ideas left me with a surprising respect for the spectrum of political attitudes. Both liberals and conservatives embody behaviors tested by human needs over eons of time. In all our predictable diversity, we human beings are the inarguable descendents of life's winners, those who have found a path to the present moment, a hard-won existence, a tentative victory. But the same triumphant attitudes that have brought us to this place could also lead us blindly to our destruction. Beginning to glimpse and understand who we are has never been more important. Read this book."

- TERESA BUCZINSKY, High school teacher, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Profile Image for Teresa Buczinsky.
18 reviews6 followers
November 16, 2013
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 in accordance with the deep forces that have made human existence possible. This book introduces readers to the neurological, sexual, and social currents that continue to steer our behavior along familiar political channels.
If you are willing to look into the workings of these forces, Tuschman's book will change the way you see yourself, the way you hear the news, and perhaps the way you behave as a political agent. We are living in a time of alarming partisanship, but Tuschman's ideas left me with a surprising respect for the spectrum of political attitudes. Both liberals and conservatives embody behaviors tested by human needs over eons of time. In all our predictable diversity, we human beings are the inarguable descendents of life's winners, those who have found a path to the present moment, a hard-won existence, a tentative victory. But the same triumphant attitudes that have brought us to this place could also lead us blindly to our destruction. Beginning to glimpse and understand who we are has never been more important. Read this book.
March 6, 2023
So fucking amazing.

To sum up:

1) the left or right spectrum is an universal thing.

2) the right is the chimpanzee and the left is the bonobo. This is my personal opinion though, this is how I think I can summarize the spectrum. If you read about ethology, you'd know that chimps are hierarchical animals, where the male leads. Bonobos on the other hand, are way more flexible, thus the hierarchy is not so rigid, and also, females lead (by having sex).

3) the book talks a lot about the right. You may feel like he's biased, but no. Turns out that most of human history has taken place in a fraction of the evolutionary history, and evolutionary history tells us that males have been dominant almost all the time. Violence has permeated our societies; Jacques Derrida was born in 1930, anticonceptives were invented in 1951 by Carl Djerassi, hippies appeared recently in the 1960's, and the social justice scholarship took place in the 2000's, so, the "right spectrum" is way older than some aspects of the modern left.

4) Biology and many other factors define our political orientation.

5) there's a lot of evolutionary and moral psychology going on here.

Im missing a lot of points while reviewing this book, just because it is really long and dense. An amazing book that helps you tolerate even the most bastard leftist to the most absurd conservative christian. The book is exceptional and must be read due to the extreme polarization that we are living now.
12 reviews
April 14, 2016
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 seem like he is a biological determinist. Although he stresses that he is not (and that behaviour is only partly heritable) a lot of his arguments rest on the idea that behavior is genetically determined. This may be uncomfortable for some. Tuschman also gives detailed evidence against the popular notion that outbreeding is advantageous- this also may be uncomfortable for those who have only been exposed to what the mainstream media has to say on the issue.

The major flaw is of course that he fails to consider libertarianism. He reduces the 'far-right' to a bunch of fascist, religious, ethnocentric parties.
Profile Image for Igor Faynshteyn.
36 reviews7 followers
June 22, 2017
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 is the thesis of the book that this unity is largely the result of shared genetic traits of individuals in a society.

The author doesn't introduce any original research of his own. Rather the thesis is based on synthesis of many research studies spanning several decades and crossing multiple disciplines. While the subject is very interesting, it could have been more effectively synthesized and presented, especially considering that the book is aimed at mass readership. To be sure, there are anecdotes here and there, personal stories and short narratives that accompany research studies. And although the writing style is straight-forward and clear, the content is largely dry. Make no mistake - this is a political science work, with contributions from multiple other disciplines and therefore is not a summer reading material.

With respect to the content, the chunk of the book is persuasive. However, I found some of the inferences to be a stretch, and some works cited seemed cherry-picked to reinforce the author's thesis.

There are many interesting, captivating and even counter intuitive findings. For example, in one British research study, the participants were asked to self-identify their political affiliations and then submit to a MRI brain scan. Based only on MRI of the participants' brains, the researchers were able with 80% accuracy to predict the political affiliation of the participants. The reason is because political conservatives and liberals have different brain structures identifiable in MRI brain scans; moreover, the size and shape of these structures are likely the result of genes rather than the environment. There are many twin studies cited, most of which show that when identical twins are separated and raised in different environments and households, their politics remain largely the same.
Another interesting finding is that southern cultures tend to be somewhat more conservative than northern cultures, across the world. But the counter intuitive conclusion is that it's not that the climate makes people more liberal or conservative, but rather people's climate preferences correlate to their politics and the migration and settlement patterns reflect that. That is, people with liberal genetic leanings tend to prefer northern climates, and those with conservative genetic leanings prefer the southern climates.
The book is full of these kinds of studies and findings, as it tries to isolate the factors that contribute to our politics. And while the book seems solid on most points, some inferences seem far fetched. For example, the author cites Daniel Goldhagen's book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners", in order to demonstrate that the German society was predisposed to anti-Semitism prior to Hitler's ascension. This citation is to support the proposition that the Germanic society had a genetic predisposition toward anti-Semitism. The problem with Goldhagen's book (and thesis) however, is that it has been roundly refuted and discredited by most of the top and mainstream scholars in the field. Therefore, if the Germanic society was not in fact predisposed toward anti-Semitism (at least not more so than other societies), then the argument that it is rooted in genes collapses.

Essentially, when it comes to social issues, conservatives and liberals are vastly different and the difference can be explained substantially on the basis of different gene sets of conservatives and liberals. However, on economics, there is virtually no correlation between how one's beliefs with respect to economics and one's political party affiliation. Thus, in the US exit polls and other studies show that people don't necessarily vote based on their income or other financial interests, but rather on how they feel about the various social issues.

The major problem with the book, aside from some of its far fetched assertions, is that the author doesn't do a good job of pulling all of the disparate sources together to produce a readable and persuasive narrative. Much of the book feels like a set of disjointed summaries of research studies, organized by chapters and sub-chapters. Since this book crosses many different disciplines, it's important to keep an eye on the big picture and not lose the forest for the trees. But in order to understand how all of the parts fit together requires for an author to synthesize the disparate sources and data and relate them to each other in a way that is comprehensive. The author did a mediocre job handling this task.

Despite its shortcomings, much of the book is still interesting and in parts even compelling, even if it's not the final word on the subject - which it surely is not.
Profile Image for Steve.
956 reviews44 followers
December 2, 2013
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-editing was crappy - didn't someone know the difference between heel and heal? Lastly, the book takes the left/right political spectrum as if it were the only political spectrum that matters, and entirely ignores the small but important issue of libertarianism, which doesn't neatly fit on the left/right spectrum. That would be like a discussion of the a "masculine/feminine" spectrum that totally ignored homosexuality.
Profile Image for Pavlo Illiashenko.
25 reviews15 followers
November 15, 2014
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.
Profile Image for John Grange.
32 reviews3 followers
December 15, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Jurij Fedorov.
364 reviews65 followers
September 6, 2019
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 great stuff here. It's a breeze to listen to in audiobook format. It's very well written and very interesting. The chapters make sense and the stories are very fascinating. The science is mostly on point and fascinating. It's very close to a must-read book for all of humanity. This is a book you need to pick up as soon as possible. I'm going to read it again at some point.


There were a few social influence studies here that are very dated compared to modern scientific findings. They just don't seem to hold up, but I understand why the author wanted to include them. It's still interesting to read about possible social influences even though the science itself doesn't hold up.

The birth order stuff was a bit weird. When women grow older it does influence the offsprings. Which would mean younger siblings are different in general from older siblings. But there is no "birth order" to it at all. It's just the age of the mother that matters here. The whole "birth order" hypothesis is a very interesting one, but there is just a much more simple and already proven explanation for these observations. Still, it's interesting to think about it being a possibility. I'm just not convinced.

And to respond to the great feedback from conservatives about this book not being "fair" to them.
It's also not politically neutral, obviously. I didn't expect this to be fully centrist anyhow as nearly no such books are. Maybe 1 out of 30 political science books are centrist while 27/30 are left leaning. If you don't accept a bit left leaning focus in your social science then the whole scientific field is just not for you. He does attack conservatives a lot and is very lenient on the center-left. I actually don't remember many passages being critical of the center-left while conservatives really got pounded left and right in this book alongside some communist regimes. I love critical studies and I do wish the book was expanded in the future to include such studies on the center-left group too. But they are few and far in between as most social scientists are left leaning. So the author here is probably playing a waiting game as most of those studies may not exist for another 50 years. I understand the critique of the book. There are even studies and findings used in this book that even describe conservative politics as evil, mean, cold or destructive. So many of the researchers don't even mend words or try to hide their bias. This is just a larger problem. It's a problem with the field overall and not just this one book.
Profile Image for Lee .
109 reviews7 followers
January 21, 2021
I will admit that I didn't read every page of this book. At first, I was fascinated by the information provided. Then I started to come across information that just seemed too biased or used as universals when they are not. For example, he writes: "scientific anthropologists all agree that patriarchy is a human universal; matriarchy has never existed outside of politically motivated ideology." I decided to fact-check that and found it to be completely untrue. Fact-checking other statements also proved them false.

This is a small point and also my favorite error: "Jacob means heal-grabber, because Jacob was born seizing Esau's heal" Um, heel?

It is obvious that Avi Tuschman is liberal, which is fine. However, when presenting a case for the science behind why humans are they way we are, cherry-picking data to fit your argument is not scientific.
Profile Image for Paige McLoughlin.
231 reviews71 followers
January 23, 2021
Best book I have seen on the topic of the political psychology of political orientation and how it relates to personality. Explains the differences between people and the left and right in big five personality traits especially the important factors of Openness and Conscientiousness and the remarkable differences in personality between the left and right of the political spectrum Left (is more open) the Right (shows more conscientiousness). The book explains details of these differences and comes up with an Evolutionary psychological explanation for these personalty differences (with no political parties needed on the savannahs of Africa either). I will drop a video of the argument.

Profile Image for Bradley Jarvis.
Author 13 books11 followers
September 3, 2014
"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 logic and observations that support them or call them into question. Of particular importance, the research disproves several common and often-repeated beliefs about the subject, replacing them with understanding rooted in natural science.

Since politics shapes public policy, and public policy plays a vital role in both the duration and quality of our lives, accurately comprehending what drives it is critical to determining what's necessary to ultimately improve our lives. This book goes a long way toward assisting that comprehension.

For those interested in using this knowledge to attain political objectives, it offers little or no hope of convincing people to change their basic orientation. Instead, it provides a multitude of historical examples of how political outcomes have been forced or manipulated through deception. Mainly, the author counsels readers to better live together by recognizing their own biases, and learning about and respecting people who do not share their views.

I highly recommend this book to everyone interested in what shapes human behavior, especially why we organize our societies the way we do.
Author 3 books3 followers
July 15, 2019
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 be surprised by what they learn.

Some highlights:

Virtually every human being-- in almost every country throughout the world, regardless of who is in power-- will claim that they fall somewhere along a left-right spectrum.

Most people, self-identified as “left or right”, “liberal or conservative”, do not understand what actually motivates people to vote the way they do.

The political leanings of individuals correlate with specific patterns in MRI scans.

Identical twins raised apart have more closely correlated political leanings than fraternal ones.

Three parameters are critical motivators in human behavior: tribalism, views on inequality, and views of human nature.

After an enlightening introduction, six parts of the book are brilliantly organized as follows:

1. Tribalism
2. Biological roots of tribalism
3. Views on inequality
4. Biological roots of views on inequality
5. Views of human nature
6. Biological roots of views of human nature, including altruism and parenting.

Anyone who has strong opinions about nature vs. nurture owes it to themselves to read this book. Engaging, readable, and thoroughly researched.
Profile Image for Randon.
13 reviews8 followers
January 3, 2017
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 summation of the information communicated in the book.
Profile Image for Marks54.
1,333 reviews1,154 followers
August 6, 2021
This book is a long exposition of a conceptual framework on an individual’s political nature or their political personality - an overall perspective on an individual’s political orientation on a series of key dimensions. The author claims an association with Stanford, but does not appear to be on the faculty. He seems to be an affiliated person in a related institute. The book is a 2013 book and so does not address the numerous political issues associated with Trump and Trumpism that arose with the elections of 2016 and 2020.

The book reads like a general textbook about political attitudes and how to measure them. The book’s efforts to support a detailed attitudinal survey instrument is reasonable and expected, especially when the topics touch upon issues of current controversies, as these do. This book is in effect an extended answer to why the survey questions have been included (and other questions/issues not included). To be clear, this is not an overall theory of desired political orientations, but rather a set of ideas related to the dimensions upon which any human political orientations can be mapped out. The book provides lots of detail on the survey side of this, but there are three general dimensions/complexes around which the book is organizaed are three: Tribalism, Tolerance of Inequality; and Perceptions of Human Nature. This third dimension includes such items as the conditions in which reciprocity or authority serve as bases for political interactions. These dimensions are hugely detailed with numerous sub areas that are discussed more fully in the book. This work developed originally out of the “Authoritarian Personality” studies at Berkeley after WW2, which were part of the numerous studies seeking to understand why the Germans so completely subordinated themselves to Hitler in the 1930s up through WW2. This was an attempt to see if such an Authoritarian Personality was possible in the US. This work was further developed by Altemeyer, who built upon and improved the survey instruments. Readers should know that there is lots of technical detail on these surveys in the introductory chapters.

Tuschman makes some strong claims about this project. The multiple instruments here are well tested and perform well under various tests of validity. They are comprehensive and their results are also consistent with prior significant efforts at studying political personality. This is meant as a definitive set of instruments and the book’s framework is not tied to an American or even a European context and the survey produces consistent results across a wide range of societal contexts.

…ok I will pause here. Where this would typically come into use would be in a study of political behavior and the data base would have information about a large number of individuals, including their socio-economic status, their employment situation, location, and lots of other information. Most research studies using such a data base would want to know the general political orientation of the people being studied. Were they all of a similar orientation (democrat versus republican) or did they have a particular background that might influence their general orientation? An individual’s score on this survey (the RWA scale) could be used as an independent variable to test if individual choices were explained by individual political orientations - for example that liberals chose one way, moderates another way, and conserveratives another way. Study design issues loom large here, but I will skip the details.

So the claim is that these dimensions will organize liberals and conservatives and various intermediate positions. So political personality gets reduced to a survey profile score. I am not sure what I think about this. It is not unusual to have comprehensive surveys that get developed or motivated this way. This book makes comprehensive claims that are not obvious - for example do liberal-conservative polarities really mean the same across a range of different societies? So being a liberal in Hungary is the same as being a liberal in Britain or in the US?

There are even broader and more ambitious claims, however. Tuschman argues that a significant portion of our political personalities (40%? 60%) are rooted in our biology - that we inherit tendencies towards authoritarianism in the family, or towards inbreeding versus outbreeding, or towards the importance of religion in society. The political orientations of people develop over extended periods of time to enhance individual and group abilities to survive, prosper, and reproduce - to secure evolutionary success. Remember, political nature here concerns broad and abstract dimensions that span a wide range of human interactions and that reliably replicate themselves in a variety of social settings. The claim is that there is a significant biological component.

It is no doubt an intriguing claim that our political personalities are baked into our genes and our histories as our ancestors dealt with challenges over the years. But how does one even think about proving that claim? I am not convinced of even the limited arguments for biological bases of particular behaviors and traits. One of the most popular words in the book has got to be “correlation” - and the vast majority of support in the book is offered in terms of some variable X being associated with a variable Y in predictable and consistent ways. Correlation is not causation, however, and does not establish proof. Without even considering measurement errors and noise, an identified correlation could indicate causation in either direction or even that the correlated variables were both associated with some third variable. Besides, if you follow enough medical research, you will know that if one throws enough correlations out on the table in a study, one will eventually find some significant ones that fit with the story of interest. There are issues with correlational research.

While the book is ambitious, I do not have strong issues with the coverage of particular topics. To his credit, Tuschman provides fairly effective coverage of particular topics and copious citations for those wishing to read further. I will note the need for some caution, however, in that this is an interdisciplinary book and academic disciplines can vary widely in their standards for experimental design and data analysis. I tried to check for some analytic papers about issues in this work but was unable to find any and the book is not heavily cited/followed on Google.

My issues are with the overall structure of the book and the arguments that Tuschman, rather than the authors he cites, is making. His contribution is to the overall structure of the argument. I am not sure if everything fits together. Caveat Emptor!
Profile Image for Jason.
48 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2013
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
Profile Image for Maher Razouk.
652 reviews178 followers
January 22, 2021
توجهاتنا السياسية ...
من بين العلماء الأوائل الذين بحثوا عن جذور التوجه السياسي - سواء كان ذلك للناس هنا في الولايات المتحدة أو في قرية ريفية في تونس - كان اثنان من علماء النفس الرائدين في كاليفورنيا يدعون جاك وجين بلوك. بالعودة إلى عام 1969 ، طرح The Blocks على أنفسهم سؤالين صعبين: ما مدى عمق ميولنا السياسية؟ وكم في وقت مبكر من الحياة بدأت هذه الميول تتشكل داخل كل واحد منا؟

بحثًا عن إجابات ، ابتكر The Blocks دراسة غير عادية للغاية ، وبدأت مع الأطفال الذين كانوا لا يزالون في الحضانة. في ظاهر الأمر ، بدت فرضية الدراسة سخيفة: ما الذي يعرفه أطفال الحضانة عن الديمقراطيين أو الجمهوريين ، أو عن القضايا المعقدة والساخنة اليومية؟ ومع ذلك ، كان The Blocks باحثين جادين من جامعة كاليفورنيا في بيركلي ، وكانوا مصممين على فتح آفاق جديدة.

من أجل تجربتهم ، وضع الأستاذان مجموعة من 128 طفلاً في الحضانة تحت المراقبة الدقيقة من قبل العديد من المعلمين لمدة سبعة أشهر. ثم طلب The Blocks من كل من هؤلاء القائمين على الرعاية قياس شخصيات الأطفال في سن الثالثة والتفاعلات الاجتماعية ، باستخدام اختبار موحد واحد. ثم خضع نفس الأطفال لهذه العملية مرة أخرى في سن الرابعة ، مع مجموعة مختلفة من المعلمين في حضانة ثانية. قامت المجموعات بجدولة الدرجات لكل طفل ثم أقفلت الأرقام بعيدًا في قبو.

بقيت نتائج الاختبار في القبو خلال العقدين التاليين ، بينما ذهب الأطفال من الدراسة في طرق منفصلة في الحياة. نشأوا وأكملوا تعليمهم وتحولوا إلى شباب.

بعد مرور عشرين عامًا ، نجح الباحثين في تتبع 95 من أصل 128 موضوعًا أصليًا ، على أمل قياس مدى الليبرالية أو المحافظة التي أصبح كل منهم فيها. هذه المرة طلبوا من الشباب البالغين من العمر الآن أربعة وعشرين عامًا أن يضعوا أنفسهم في طيف سياسي مكون من خمس نقاط. كما طلبوا منهم التعبير عن آرائهم حول عدد من القضايا الحزبية للغاية والساخنة. على وجه الخصوص ، قاس العديد من هذه الأسئلة مدى تحملهم لعدم المساواة بين الجنسين وبين المجموعات العرقية المختلفة. بالإضافة إلى ذلك ، طُلب منهم وصف أي نشاط سياسي ربما شاركوا فيه خلال السنوات الفاصلة.

النتائج ، التي نُشرت في عام 2006 من قبل مجلة Research in Personality ، كانت مذهلة . عند تحليل بياناتهم ، وجد الباحثون مجموعة واضحة من سمات شخصية الطفولة التي تنبأت بدقة بالمحافظة في مرحلة البلوغ. على سبيل المثال ، في سن الثالثة والرابعة ، وُصف الأطفال "المحافظون" في مرحلة ما قبل المراقب��ن بأنهم "غير مرتاحين مع عدم اليقين" ، و "جامدين عند تعرضهم للإكراه" ، و "متحكمين نسبيًا". كانت الفتيات "هادئات ، مرتبات ، مطيعات ، خائفات ، [وأملن] بالحصول على المساعدة من الكبار من حولهم."

وبالمثل ، حدد الباحثون مجموعة أخرى من سمات الطفولة التي ارتبطت بأشخاص أصبحوا ليبراليين في منتصف العشرينات من العمر. كان الأطفال "الليبراليون" أكثر "استقلالية ، وتعبيرًا ، وحيوية ، وقلّيلي السيطرة نسبيًا". كان لدى الفتيات الليبراليات مستويات أعلى من "تأكيد الذات ، والثرثرة ، والفضول ، [و] الانفتاح في التعبير عن المشاعر السلبية".
اقترحت تجربة The Blocks أن جذور توجهاتنا السياسية تظهر في وقت مبكر من العام الرابع من العمر.
Avi Tuschuman
Our Political Nature
Translated By #Maher_Razouk
Profile Image for Yanick Punter.
267 reviews35 followers
August 28, 2020
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 indeed creative or on the spectrum. Badcock and Crespi claim the opposite of this spectrum is the autism spectrum. You might wonder: what does this have to do with politics? Another book, that by Hector A. Garcia claims in the chapter "Is conservatism an extreme form of the male brain":

“Conservatism, I argue, is a male-centric strategy shaped significantly by the struggle for dominance in within-and-between group mate competitions, while liberalism is a female-centric strategy derived from the protracted demands of rearing human offspring, among other selective pressures.”

I've speculated whatever, and how, the diametrical mind fits into politics, and this got me confused. Because, Tuschman divides liberalism and conservatism with the following traits:

Tribalism breaks down into ethnocentrism vs xenophilia, religiosity vs secularism and different levels of tolerance, toward nonreproductive sexuality, tolerance of inequality egalitarianism vs hierarchy and perceptions of human nature: cooperative vs competitive.

I have no idea where most of these would fit on the diametrical mind. However, research usually shows autism as being non-religious and schizotypy as religious. I think the book by Marco del Giudice offers some help. He says:

"Among the Big Five, agreeableness and conscientiousness show the most consistent pattern of associations with slow traits such as restricted sociosexuality, long-term mating orientation, couple stability, secure attachment to parents in infancy and romantic partners in adulthood, reduced sex drive, low impulsivity, and risk aversion across domains."

He identifies the following life-history strategies (which include several psychopathalogies, which are seen as maladaptive forms of otherwise adaptive strategies).

Fast life history
- The antagonistic/exploitative strategy
- The creative/seductive strategy
Slow life history
- The prosocial/caregiving strategy
- The skilled/provisioning strategy

It is important to note that I'm speculating on various traits that is left vs right, masculine vs feminine and fast vs slow . I speculate that the prosocial/caregiving strategy relates to conservatism, but it seems likely that a liberal dimension exist. I would call the antagonistic/exploitative a masculine, conservatist and fast. The creative/seductive would be feminine, liberal and fast. The prosocial/caregiving strategy would be conservatist and slow, but I am unsure if it is feminine. The skilled/provisioning strategy would be masculine and slow, but I am not sure if it is conservatist.

Research by Mark van Vugt and others shows how feminine faces are preferred in times of peace and masculine faces in times of war. I think that fits into the framework in some way too.

The following books are, I think relevant to this subject:

Evolutionary Psychopathology: A Unified Approach
Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences
Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide
Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression
Naturally Selected: Why Some People Lead, Why Others Follow, and Why It Matters

This book:
The Imprinted Brain: How Genes Set the Balance Between Autism and Psychosis
But I prefer this lecture and studies done by Bernard Crespi:

These books, but I'm uncertain where they fit in all of this:
Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing, 2nd Edition
Ages of Discord
Profile Image for Daniel Hageman.
324 reviews40 followers
November 20, 2020
Interesting enough for a day-long road trip. Felt a little disorganized at times, but the content was at least a solid amalgamation of some other really great resources. If it's true that we evolved as children to fight our parents to stay up late to subtly prevent them from having sex and making more siblings for us to compete with for resources..I need to rethink life.
54 reviews
November 14, 2016
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 anti-conservative (US version of conservatism) bias in use of examples, the work takes a refreshingly scientific look at political orientation.

The book covers a wide range of topics and the concepts are supported by both empirical studies and real world examples. It is definitely readable and even if a person disagrees with some of the conclusions, it provides some heavy food for thought.

If I person is looking for simple answers or wants his or her political beliefs supported, ignore this work. But if approached with an open mind, one might not find all the answers one is looking for, but one is likely to find some really interesting questions to ponder.
Profile Image for Gerry.
2 reviews
July 20, 2014
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 from human traits that have evolved through a Darwinian process. But it's sad that humanity may be doomed to continual war.
Profile Image for Rick.
31 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2016
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!
Profile Image for Leif Denti.
Author 2 books8 followers
September 26, 2018
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.
42 reviews
March 15, 2020
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 spectrum. The score has 3 components (attitudes towards tribalism, attitudes towards inequality, perceptions of human nature), and he linearly goes through explaining why each component relates to someone's political beliefs, and then the evolutionary roots of each component.

I found the political analysis to be of a lower quality than the evolutionary analysis. I think the author may have been limited by the subjectivity of politics compared to the relative objectivity of evolutionary science. The book covered a lot of interesting topics, but in some ways, I think he tries to tackle too much. If you don't struggle with an academic writing style, go for it. But for most people interested in these topics, I'd recommend reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" and Yuval Harari's "Sapiens" instead.
Profile Image for Kathy Jo.
50 reviews15 followers
October 29, 2019
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 significant role in shaping our political leanings and viewpoints regardless of our nationality, race, or culture. This is recommended reading and food-for-thought for anyone interested in better understanding why individuals and groups adopt their political stances, the current political landscape, or a deepened understanding of themselves or others.
Profile Image for Paige McLoughlin.
589 reviews25 followers
May 12, 2021
I read this book shortly after it came out and is the best book probably the most comprehensive and speculatively risky look into political psychology and the left-right spectrum. Essentially political orientation tends to line up with the big five personality traits of openness and conscientiousness more open and less conscientious are leftwing and the opposite tends towards the right. Tuschman surveys the literature around these traits and even ventures and Evo/psych explanation for it. The Evo/psych stuff often degenerates to just-so stories but Tuschman's explanation has a patina of plausibility. Anyway, probably the most comprehensive and most speculative treatment available on political psychology.


Profile Image for Hemen Kalita.
139 reviews18 followers
April 18, 2021
The book proposes and explores the idea that our political orientations are actually our natural dispositions, molded by evolutionary forces.
The author divides the book into three clusters based on our views on 1)Tribalism ( ethnocentrism vs xenophilia),
2)Inequality ( hierarchical vs liberal), and
3)Human nature ( cooperative vs competitive). He then explores each cluster by drawing on various disciplines like neuroscience, primatology, genetics, anthropology and evolutionary psychology. I found many of the chapters fascinating. It was a big book and it took me a while to complete, but it was worth it as I learned a lot.
March 29, 2022
Three months later and done. Competing priorities but oh my, happy I found this book, enjoyed every page. Considering current day polarization, I found it very informative and as objective as one can be when discussing anything political. I learned quite a bit and appreciate the effort and expertise behind the science and data of the ideas presented. Now, if everyone could take the time and acknowledge the root of some of our current polarizing issues, and actually try to listen to each other, we would most likely find ourselves in a brighter moment in human history.
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