Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit
Chapter 15: Mass political behavior and biology
The objective of this chapter is to introduce readers to research that addresses the effects of biological forces on behaviors central to democracy: voting, forming political opinions, and cognitively engaging with public issues. It provides an overview of the literature on mass political behavior and behavioral genetics. This includes the substantial body of heritability studies (for example, twin studies) and the small but growing number of genomic studies (for example, genome-wide association studies). Then it introduces political neuroscience, which has been driven by the emergence of fMRI scans and is poised to explore a vast and mostly untouched behavioral territory. Next it reviews biological perspectives on mass political behavior that have not received as much attention but appear to be well-positioned to grow: evolution, biological signals and cues, behavioral endocrinology, and health status. Finally, it speculates about how biologically informed research can help scholars more thoroughly understand mass political behavior.
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