Handbook of Biology and Politics
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Handbook of Biology and Politics

Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit

The study of biology and politics (or biopolitics) has gained considerable currency in recent years, as articles on the subject have appeared in mainstream journals and books on the subject have been well received. The literature has increased greatly since the 1960s and 1970s, when this specialization first made an appearance. This volume assesses the contributions of biology to political science. Chapters focus on general biological approaches to politics, biopolitical contributions to mainstream areas within political science, and linkages between biology and public policy. The volume provides readers with a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
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Chapter 8: Evolutionary psychology and political psychology: how to use evolutionary psychology to theorize about political psychology

Michael Bang Petersen


This chapter discusses the contributions that biology can make to one subfield in political science: how evolutionary psychology provides a toolkit for generating hypotheses in political psychology, a subfield within the discipline that has attained a substantial level of interest. The concepts and theoretical assumptions of evolutionary psychology are described and their applications to political psychology are developed. To illustrate the relevance of evolutionary psychology, one case study is provided: the deservingness hypothesis. The focus is on the extent to which welfare recipients are considered as deserving or undeserving. The implications of this from an evolutionary perspective are outlined. This case study suggests a role for evolutionary theory in our understanding of political psychology.

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