Political attitudes vary with physiological traits

Douglas R. Oxley, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Alford, Matthew V. Hibbing, Jennifer L. Miller, Mario J Scalora, Peter K. Hatemi, John R Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

266 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although political views have been thought to arise largely from individuals' experiences, recent research suggests that they may have a biological basis. We present evidence that variations in political attitudes correlate with physiological traits. In a group of 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs, individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq War. Thus, the degree to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appears to indicate the degree to which they advocate policies that protect the existing social structure from both external (outgroup) and internal (norm-violator) threats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1667-1670
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume321
Issue number5896
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 19 2008

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Capital Punishment
International Cooperation
Iraq
Emigration and Immigration
Firearms
Noise
Research

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Oxley, D. R., Smith, K. B., Alford, J. R., Hibbing, M. V., Miller, J. L., Scalora, M. J., ... Hibbing, J. R. (2008). Political attitudes vary with physiological traits. Science, 321(5896), 1667-1670. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1157627

Political attitudes vary with physiological traits. / Oxley, Douglas R.; Smith, Kevin B.; Alford, John R.; Hibbing, Matthew V.; Miller, Jennifer L.; Scalora, Mario J; Hatemi, Peter K.; Hibbing, John R.

In: Science, Vol. 321, No. 5896, 19.09.2008, p. 1667-1670.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Oxley, DR, Smith, KB, Alford, JR, Hibbing, MV, Miller, JL, Scalora, MJ, Hatemi, PK & Hibbing, JR 2008, 'Political attitudes vary with physiological traits', Science, vol. 321, no. 5896, pp. 1667-1670. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1157627
Oxley DR, Smith KB, Alford JR, Hibbing MV, Miller JL, Scalora MJ et al. Political attitudes vary with physiological traits. Science. 2008 Sep 19;321(5896):1667-1670. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1157627
Oxley, Douglas R. ; Smith, Kevin B. ; Alford, John R. ; Hibbing, Matthew V. ; Miller, Jennifer L. ; Scalora, Mario J ; Hatemi, Peter K. ; Hibbing, John R. / Political attitudes vary with physiological traits. In: Science. 2008 ; Vol. 321, No. 5896. pp. 1667-1670.
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