This is Your Brain on Politics

November 23, 2009 - 17:20 - 19:00
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
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Abstract: In political science, we have long had low levels of explanatory power with conventional models. Accounting for just a quarter of the variance is usually a tremendous accomplishment and often requires many independent variables and sophisticated statistical techniques.  Two dogmas of the discipline, the behaviorist approach and rational choice theory, preclude biological explanations.  In this talk, however, I will review a variety of results that show how some of the central phenomena of interest in the field can be accounted for using work based in genetics and neuroscience.  I'll discuss work on race, political sophistication, voter turnout, and partisanship.  And, I will show how we can use fMRI to predict your political party affiliation with shocking accuracy and some preliminary evidence of the neural substrates of egalitarianism.