The Brain on Partisan Politics

September 17, 2020

Show Notes, Electronic Sources & Transcript

Show Notes

Episode 9; The Brain on Partisan Politics: Why Not So Great Minds Polarize Alike, with NYU Neural Scientist, Dr. Jay Van Bavel 

Let’s say, for the sake of Episode 9 (The Brain on Partisan Politics), that identical twins are separated at birth and raised in very different families, politically speaking: one deep blue, the other deep red. They’re clearly bound to have different political leanings as adults, correct?

Actually, probably not, according to Dr. Jay Van Bavel, NYU Neural Scientist and our featured guest in Episode 9. According to the best available science, genetics account for nearly half of our political inclinations. And recent studies in the UK and the U.S. found varying concentrations of gray matter in different parts of the liberal and conservative brain, meaning a large number of partisans out there may be hardwired for political orientation. 

These are just two of the important insights discussed with Dr. Van Bavel, author or co-author of over 100 scientific papers in psychology and neural science, many of them focused on group identity and partisanship. 

Canadian by birth and education (PhD, University of Toronto), Dr. Van Bavel had been largely disinterested in politics until moving from multi-party Canada to these two-party United States during the 2008 election. Dr. Van Bavel discusses that eureka moment as well as living through both Hurricane Sandy and COVID-19 in Manhattan under very different leadership responses. 

Yes, but what about the independent brain, you indie listeners are asking? We’ll get to that as well. To learn where your gray matter concentrates, tune into Episode 9, The Brain on Partisan Politics, with featured guest Dr. Jay Van Bavel, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU and enthusiastic proponent of bringing the brain back into political discussion. 

Purple Principle Music by Ryan Adair Rooney.

Transcript

Jay Van Bavel:

So independents I think are probably on average biologically different, and their brain structure is going to be a little bit different. I have a brand new study where we looked at what’s called dogmatism. And that’s cognitive rigidity. 

Robert Pease (host):

That’s Dr. Jay Van Bavel of  New York University, an expert on the neuro foundations of political partisanship.

Jay Van Bavel:

We found that conservatives were more dogmatic, but if you looked at the far left, those people were pretty dogmatic too.1 Not as dogmatic as the far right, but more dogmatic than moderates. And so it actually seems like open-mindedness to different things, and not being rigid or dogmatic, is something that moderates or independents tend to score higher on.

Robert Pease (host):

Set your dogmatism aside and join us on the Purple Principle for a discussion with NYU neuroscientist Jay Van Bavel.  I’m Robert Pease, your host here with Emily Crocetti, staff reporter. And Emily, you’ve actually more than dabbled in neuroscience.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):

That I did. For a college, Dartmouth has a pretty awesome neuroscience department.  And since then I have run across a bunch of Dr. Van Bavels’ studies, including one indicating that our partisan political beliefs, unfortunately, are shaped by emotion, rather than logic.2

Robert Pease (host):

Why do our brains love partisanship? How could they get less partisan? And what’s up with that less dogmatic indie brain? We’ll consult Dr. Van Bavel on these questions. But first let’s get inside his brain just a little bit in the first part of Emily’s interview.

Emily Crocetti (reporter): 

Dr. Van Bavel, thank you so much for joining us. So, your training and research is in neuroscience. But what made you choose to apply that to politics specifically? Was there any type of “aha” moment when you realized that partisanship needed to be studied under a neuroscientific lens?

Jay Van Bavel: 

I did my PhD at the University of Toronto. So the story here starts with the fact that I’m Canadian, and wasn’t really that interested in American politics at all. And suddenly, in the year 2006, my PhD advisor got recruited away to Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. And I moved with him. And at the time I was really interested in group identity, how easy it is to form groups, and how once you form a group and adopt that identity, how it changes the way that you think about all kinds of things in the world. And then it was the lead up to the 2008 national presidential election in the U.S, and at the time, Ohio was the biggest swing state in the country. And so every presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate, constantly came through Ohio over and over and over again. And the campus was swarmed with people trying to register voters. I was obsessed with it. I became a total U.S political junkie, even though I couldn’t vote.

Emily Crocetti (reporter): 

And coming from Canada, which is a little more of a multi-party system, I’m wondering if that affected how you saw the American two-party system?

Jay Van Bavel: 

Yeah. The interesting thing about that multi-party system is, if you decide that you don’t like the liberal party, you could vote for the new democratic party.3 And yet you still don’t have to vote for a party you dislike, whereas in the United States, it’s very much, if you don’t like your party, it feels like the other party is going to win because it’s a zero sum game of two teams. I’ve written about this in publications, that I suspect that’s part of why two-party systems are more susceptible to partisanship and polarization.

The other thing I will say is that Canada’s a really good case where the coronavirus didn’t have to get polarized. And so even though Canadians have a largely conservative party, a largely liberal party for the most part of the two largest parties, if you look at the rhetoric of their leaders from both parties, neither of them is downplaying the coronavirus.4

And so that’s a really interesting case where – and again, Canada is very close –  I have a lot of family in Canada and you have real political debates in Canada, don’t get me wrong. And many of them are similar to the United States, but this issue did not have to get polarized.

Robert Pease (host):

That is interesting.  We have so much in common with Canada, geographically and culturally.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):  

But we responded to COVID so differently.

Robert Pease (host): 

Even election nights in a multiparty system must be really different…

[Archival audio collage]

Robert Pease (host):  

It seems like  partisanship was working overtime here with the U.S. COVID response.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):     

That’s for sure. Here’s more from Dr. Van Bavel on the topic of COVID.

Jay Van Bavel: 

So I live in New York City, which was the world’s hot spot for COVID-19. I’ve been living in the middle of it and also studying it, and there’s a couple of things that have happened. The first thing that happened is that many polls showed that Democrats took COVID-19 more seriously than Republicans.5 Why did that happen? We don’t know for sure. But there are many clues about their political leaders and members of the media that suggest that Republicans were getting signals that it wasn’t a big problem. Donald Trump famously said that Democratic concerns about COVID-19, he called them a Democratic hoax, thought they were overblown. He constantly underplayed the risk, even to this date, he doesn’t wear a face mask.6

And we found that in counties that voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the last election, they were engaging in 16% less social distancing or physical distancing during a long period of time over several weeks.7 And we also found that this was correlated with exposure to Fox News as opposed to CNN or MSNBC.

So this is where one of the scenarios where once you have a polarized electorate and hyper-partisanship, if you have leaders and elites that they trust telling them something, they will start to adopt it in their own beliefs and behaviors and it can have catastrophic consequences.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

But then…okay. What about science? Because this feels like proof that trust in science, and scientific evidence, is being sacrificed to political loyalty. 

Jay Van Bavel: 

So I will say this, that if you actually look at attitudes towards science and scientists, Republicans tend to be pro-science. But they’ve lost trust over time in universities and professors and other elite sources of –  they consider them elites – certain expert sources of information.8 And that’s a problem. I think a lot of it up until this point has been symbolic, but it starts to have consequences when you’re looking at a pandemic and it has lethal consequences.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

So changing gears a bit…. you are pretty active on social media in terms of sharing your research on the partisan brain. But  could you talk a little bit about some of your research on social media and the effects of social media? 

Jay Van Bavel: 

Yeah, definitely. So a couple of years ago, in the 2016 presidential election, I started to become aware in the United States of this spread of fake news and misinformation. And you could start to see some of these things come through on my social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter. And I also was able to notice occasionally the dynamics that happen in politics happening among scientists, where we would disagree on something, people could become very entrenched in their views. 

They might even use highly moralized language about how some people were just bad scientists and had an immoral approach to science. And so I started to get interested in not only what was happening in American politics around that time, but spreading misinformation and partisan conflict.

The goal for me is not just understanding. But hopefully once you understand it, you can start to advise strategies for cooling the temperature and political debates, turning those discussions to focus on reason-based arguments or data or evidence. 

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

And out of this research, what would you say are some of the main psychological concepts that seem to be fundamental in this partisan behavior?

Jay Van Bavel: 

So there’s a few core concepts that really seem powerful for me in understanding what’s going on. The first one is really simply that people have prior understandings of what to expect because they’re turned into certain news stations year after year, and start to develop a theory of the world. And so those are called your “priors”.9 

The other thing that seems really important is that, in addition to having these prior understandings, we use our brain to actively interpret the information that we receive. And when we’re motivated to believe something, we will try to argue in ways that provide evidence for what we want to believe and counter argue things that we don’t want to believe. That’s called motivated reasoning.10 And so you have a set of prior beliefs, and in real time, you’re also engaging in motivated reasoning. The third thing that might be important here, we believe, is that people, when they encounter things that they disagree with, cause a feeling of what’s known as cognitive dissonance.11

Basically that’s when you have a conflict internally, and it might be between something that you read versus something that you believed before you read that thing. And you have a decision: you either have to abandon your prior belief, or you have to dismiss the new information that you read. And for most people, the notion of letting go of a belief system or a party identity that they’ve held really closely to who they are is horrifying, because if you’ve been a party member of the Democrats or Republicans for 10 or 20 years, the notion that you’re just going to abandon that – after, you know, you have friends who are members of that party, you’ve posted signs on your lawn or stickers on your car – for you to completely abandon that is deeply threatening to a lot of people. So there’s lots of incentives that people have psychologically to just simply ignore contradictory information. It’s actually the easiest thing you can do in that situation.

Robert Pease (host):   

And that must be why we don’t see much change in party registrations.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):    

Even as parties change candidates and platforms.

Robert Pease (host):   

But we’ve actually had some guests push back on the idea polarization is increasing, like Myq Kaplan in the first comedy episode.

(Previously recorded audio, Myq Kaplan):

“It’s interesting, because one of the ways that things are being – in my sort of anecdotal observations – being polarized is there might be some people that are like, ‘Hey, don’t do that.’ And there might be some people that are like, even more like ‘we say whatever we want.’

So it’s hard to say definitely, if it is more polarized or perhaps it might be part of it that we know we have more data, we have more people are talking.”

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

I asked Dr. Van Bavel specifically about that point. And he mentioned that many Americans today won’t even consider dating someone from the other party.

Robert Pease (host):    

Which is another great opportunity for independents. Let’s hear more about that partisan dating divide.

Jay Van Bavel: 

I would say that that’s true and false at the same time. So basically, we are more partisan than we’ve been in a long, long time. That’s well-documented, and it’s documented in many different ways, not just in terms of people believing different things, but in terms of people actively disliking the outgroup. There’s research suggesting that people are less willing now to date somebody from the other party than they would be to date somebody from a different race, which was, for the last hundred years, a major barrier for people.

So that’s where he’s wrong. What he’s right about is that we overestimate how polarized we are. So we’re definitely more polarized, but at the same time, if you go around and you ask people how different they are from somebody in the other party, they tend to actually make vast over-estimates of how different they are. They have bad stereotypes of other groups that actually aren’t true and don’t reflect the other group’s true beliefs. And so that gets amplified in the media and you create these caricatures or cartoon versions of people from other parties. 

Fox News is particularly notorious for this. They’ll pull out a bad, you know, something happens on a campus that looks really bad and they act as if this is a common event, even if it’s remarkably rare.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

That’s true, cable news is definitely a big factor. But social media also plays a role, too. So what exactly happens in the brain when somebody clicks through social media?

Jay Van Bavel: 

So, social media – I spend way too much time on it – all the things that are going to come out of my mouth are not just from my research, but from my own experiences and I’m susceptible to them myself.

For many young people, it’s now the primary source of their political news. Research by Molly Crockett at Yale University has also found that it is the primary source of moral outrage for people.12 

And we have a number of studies on this spearheaded by my former student, Billy Brady.13 And we wanted to look at, you know, he was interested in moral emotions. And it seemed obvious to him, and to me, that maybe that was the type of language people would use when they wanted something to go viral. They would express outrage or great joy if it was something morally virtuous. If you want your message to go viral, you can just load up with a bunch of language like that. But what we also found that was quite interesting was who was sharing it changed depending on if you had that moral, emotional language in it. When people were using that moral, emotional language it was more likely to “go viral” as they say, but it was mainly only going viral among like minded people. So liberals suddenly enter a liberal echo chamber of other liberals, and conservatives are suddenly talking to an echo chamber of other conservatives. It doesn’t really cross over to people who are different than you. 

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

Well then, it seems like this becomes a feedback loop.

Jay Van Bavel: 

So it cuts people off from one another. The other thing is that social media is an attention economy. So I read a statistic that the average person scrolls through 300 feet of social media newsfeed a day, the average social media user.14 So that means if you have your iPhone, and it’s six inches tall, every time you flick up to see more stuff on your Twitter feed or Facebook feed, that’s six inches. So imagine doing that 600 times a day. So what we found in lab experiments – this was led by Ana Gantman, who’s a professor at CUNY15 – we found that if you show those moral, emotional words, they pop out more to people. And so if you want to get attention, you want to build a large set of followers, you want to promote yourself professionally, or get people going to your blog to click on it, or buy your book, that this is one way you can basically weaponize this language and then monetize it. So that’s the economy of social media that we’ve created and that now 3 billion of us spend time in everyday.

Robert Pease (host):  

So the social media dragon rears its ugly head again.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

Breathing moral language fire.

Robert Pease (host):  

It doesn’t look good, Emily, in terms of stemming partisanship. Our brains are tribal. We have this two party system. And then social media inflames things even more.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):  

But wait, hold that pessimism. There are cases where societies do transcend partisanship,  and the Black Lives Matter Movement might be one of them. Here’s Dr. Van Bavel on that

Jay Van Bavel: 

So one thing that is important to understand when we’re talking about partisanship and polarization is that there’s all these other complexities. And one of them is race,  demographics, and age.  And there’s overwhelming evidence that the black community votes Democrat and has for a long period of time. 

However, with the Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been something really remarkable in that public attitudes towards that movement shifted dramatically and in a way that almost never happens with political issues. So it’s suddenly now becoming nonpartisan, where something like 85% of the public supports getting rid of the militarization of police forces or banning choking among police officers.16 And so that is a really interesting case where you took something that is driven in part by a demographic group that tends to be Democratic. And they brought an issue to public awareness in a way that’s had a sea change in public opinion. Getting 85% approval for something in a polarized country like this is really a remarkable achievement. 

Emily Crocetti (reporter):  

So the shift from partisan to nonpartisan, is that a shift of seeing, say, seeing common humanity? And therefore someone’s ingroup becomes all Americans, rather than one of the parties?

Jay Van Bavel: 

I think that humans have the capacity to empathize with other people. And I do think that there is a broader awareness and understanding of racism and issues of systemic racism. I think a big issue now has been the videos, like the video of George Floyd. People can watch that and they can see what’s happening to other human beings in a way that they couldn’t have seen 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 years ago. And when they see it, when they see it happening in another human being who should never be treated like that, that activates the conscience for many Americans. And that changes the conversation and helps build consensus. 

Robert Pease (host):   

So that was some of that basic empathy Dr. Abigail Marsh spoke of in the Episode “Heard from the Herd”. Let’s play some of that for those who’ve not heard that episode.

(Previously recorded audio, Abigail Marsh)

“I really think that contact hypothesis is really all that it comes down to. That’s one of the oldest theories in psychology, and there’s been some great evidence recently confirming its truth, which is that contact with people who are different from yourself, especially in a non-antagonistic setting, is a great way to heal these divides.”

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

And Dr. Marsh also said that independents might have higher cognitive abilities, or higher tolerance towards dissonance. Which is a key question in the final part of the interview with Dr. Van Bavel.

Robert Pease (host):  

Great. Let’s hear it, dissonance and all.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):   

So 35-40% of Americans are independent or unaffiliated voters, and that’s a pretty big portion of the country. There seems to be a good amount of research on the conservative vs. liberal brain, but what about the independent brain? 

Jay Van Bavel: 

There are many studies looking at genetic and other biological influences on politics. The genetic stuff I think is really compelling. I remember the first time I heard about it, I was shocked. It changed how I thought about politics. Basically what they find is, they look at twin studies and they can see what is your likelihood of having the same political preferences as a twin? What they find is that identical twins are dramatically more likely to have the same political preferences.17 And so what that says is that politics or policy preferences and political preferences are heavily shaped by our genes. In fact, if you took an identical twin from a Democratic family and separated them at birth and raised one in a Republican family, those twins would still be very likely to show the same politics. So the reason why we often share our parents’ political beliefs is not because we’re absorbing the ideology that they’re sharing at the dinner table conversation, it’s because we actually share their genes. But as I said, that’s only about 40 to 50% of your political preferences.

Robert Pease (host):   

That’s interesting. Which kind of explains why the nature vs. nurture debate is never really settled. 

Emily Crocetti (reporter):  

Because both are important. Here’s more on that.

Jay Van Bavel: 

The other half of the story is dictated by what your experiences are and your exposure to things. It’s dictated by who your friend group becomes. It’s not that we’re born with the political brain, but we’re born with an orientation towards worlds that attract us towards certain types of parties and policies and leaders. One of my favorite studies on this was done in London by a set of neuroscientists and the actor, Colin Firth.18 

So Colin Firth speculated publicly that maybe liberals and conservatives have different brains. And he ended up working together with a team of world-class neuroscientists, and they scanned the structure of brains of a bunch of people who lived in London at the time. And they found that there were structural differences in gray matter volume. So conservatives effectively had more gray matter volume density in their amygdala, and liberals have a greater amount of volume density in their anterior cingulate cortex. It’s not a clear, simple, psychological story about what that means. What it simply suggests is that there are differences in how our brains are wired that are correlated with our political preferences. What we don’t know is whether this is a chicken or an egg. So it’s possible that that’s something that was in their brain structure when they were born and it attracted them to these political preferences. But of course we do know that brain structure changes as you get experienced and age.

I’ll just say, we tried to run a couple of versions of that study in New York on an American sample.19 What we found that seemed to be accounting for those big differences was actually just people’s attitudes towards the status quo and defending the system that they’re in. Because you find out the conservatives tend to care more about respect for authority and be more hierarchical than liberals. Liberals care about egalitarianism and flattening hierarchies. So we thought that might be one of the reasons we see those structural differences, but I’m just going to say that that’s speculative.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):  

So that’s the liberal vs. conservative brain. But have you learned anything about the independent brain? 

Jay Van Bavel: 

So the independent brain, I would love to say that it’s radically different, but what we find is the independent brain is pretty much just in the middle. So when we measure conservatives and liberals, unfortunately the way we end up talking about it as if those are two different groups, liberals are a cluster over here and conservatives are a cluster over there. But in reality, it’s actually a continuum and people fall all along the continuum. So some people are far right conservative and some people are just moderate conservatives. Then you have people who are kind of in the middle, and they tend to gravitate less to political parties and maybe just define themselves as independent.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):  

So, one last question. Because we’re a show primarily for independent and unaffiliated listeners, we ask each guest to show a little bit of purple and to talk about one position or one individual from each major party, and yes, we only have two, that they respect or support in some way.

Jay Van Bavel: 

Good question. Let me think. I’ll give you a case of someone I respect. So right now, since we’re talking about coronavirus, I really respect how Andrew Cuomo, our Democratic governor, has handled it. In the absence of federal leadership, he took control of a terrible, dangerous situation and took it seriously. And so I really respected how he handled it and we’re now enjoying the outcome of it. In terms of Republicans? So I lived in New York during Hurricane Sandy, and I remember that,  I believe Barack Obama was president, and the hurricane hit New York and New Jersey really hard. And I remember how much respect I had for Chris Christie at the time with how closely he worked with Obama even though they were members of different parties to try to deal with the emergency crisis on the ground.20

And I thought that was great. Both of them put their party identity away and dealt with the needs of Americans who were in an incredible crisis. And so that’s one element I think that should be necessary for political leadership, is people who understand that they need to put that aside at moments like that. 

Robert Pease (host): 

Okay, I never thought I’d be nostalgic for Hurricane Sandy. But good point about crisis leadership. What do you think, though, is the main neuroscience takeaway from Dr. Van Bavel? 

Emily Crocetti (reporter):    

That might depend whether you’re an optimist or pessimist.

Robert Pease (host): 

Or where your gray matter is concentrated.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):     

For optimists,  he did point to Black Lives Matter, where empathy rose above partisanship.

Robert Pease (host):  

But for pessimists, he confirms many Americans are just  hardwired to take opposing views.

Emily Crocetti (reporter):     

Which is inflamed by our two party system and social media. But let’s give Dr. Van Bavel the final word here.

Jay Van Bavel:  

So I’m not going to say that everybody who’s really into politics fits this psychology, but I’ve been reading a lot about cult psychology recently. And there are these really interesting cases where people believe in a cult, they’re cult members, and they give away all their possessions, often they cut ties with their family members. And they there’s been a couple of studies where they have looked at what happens when certain cults predict the end of the world, and they’ve been able to study what happens the day that the prediction doesn’t come true. What you might expect is that cult members should update their beliefs. They should be like, “Oh my goodness, this cult was totally wrong. What was I thinking? I’ve got to rebuild my life and I’ve got to move, I’ve got to leave this cult.” But that’s not what happens. In fact, a couple of studies have found that if anything, the opposite happens. They immediately start to look for rationalizations. And so in that situation, they actually double down on this identity. And in one of these studies, they found that people actually started proselytizing more.21 They actually felt motivated to go tell the media that they had saved the world, and try to convince other people to join the cult. And so there’s a kernel of that psychology in human nature that applies to all kinds of identities we have. Whether we’re talking about politics, and people find something terrible about their favorite party or politician and they can’t let go of it.

Robert Pease (host):   

That was our featured guest, Dr. Jay Van Bavel, associate professor of Neuroscience at NYU. You don’t need to give away possessions to join the Purple Principle cult. But you do need to listen with an open mind. Share us on social media and ponder these questions: how’d we get so partisan? How could we, as a nation, be less partisan? And can independent-minded Americans like you help bridge the divide? Join us next time as comedian and science podcaster Shane Mauss weighs in on these questions and a few we didn’t even ask.

Shane Mauss:

This whole quarantine has been like a psychedelic trip. And all of these interesting cognitive biases are coming to the surface too. The environmentalists are going, “we’ve been telling you that Mother Nature was gonna have her revenge if we didn’t watch out!” And the evangelicals are going, “see, we said Jesus said he was gonna come back!” Everyone was right about this, everyone called it and saw it coming, all at the same time.

Robert Pease (host):   

This is Robert Pease for the Purple Principle team. Emily Crocetti, Staff Reporter; Kevin A. Kline, Audio Engineer; Janice Murphy, Marketing & Outreach; Emily Holloway, Research and Fact Checking; Awesome music by Ryan Adair Rooney. There’s more info, including show notes and sources, at purpleprinciple.com. 

Electronic Sources

E. A. Harris & J. J. Van Bavel (5/20/20). Preregistered Replication of “Feeling superior is a bipartisan issue: Extremity (not direction) of political views predicts perceived belief superiority”. 

Jay Van Bavel

M. Cikara & J. J. Van Bavel (2014). The Neuroscience of Intergroup Relations: An Integrative Review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9(3), 245–274. 

W. Christian & H. Jansen, Party System (2015). The Canadian Encyclopedia. 

Eric Merkley et al (2020). A Rare Moment of Cross-Partisan Consensus: Elite and Public Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada. Canadian Journal of Political Science 53: 311-318.

“Republicans, Democrats Move Even Further Apart in Coronavirus Concerns” (6/25/20). Pew Research Center. 

Ron Elving (5/8/20). “What it means when Trump doesn’t wear a mask.” NPR.

Martin Daks (4/16/20). “Partisan Bias affects what Americans think of the coronavirus.” Chicago Booth Review.

Anna Brown (7/26/18). “Most Americans agree higher ed is heading in wrong direction, but partisans disagree on why.” Pew Research Center. 

J. Feldman (2013). Tuning your priors to the world. Topics in cognitive science, 5(1), 13–34. 

Kirsten Weir (2017). Why we believe alternative facts. Monitor on Psychology 48 (5). 

Thea Buckley (11/1/15). “What happens to the brain during cognitive dissonance?” Scientific American. 

Molly Crockett (2017). Moral outrage in the digital age. Nature Human Behavior.

Ana Gantman et. al. (8/20/19). “Moral Emotions Go Viral Online.” Scientific American.

“Average Person Scrolls 300 Feet of Social Media Content Daily” (1/1/18). NetNewsLedger. 

W.J. Brady et. al. (2019). Attentional capture helps explain why moral and emotional content go viral. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 

Chris Kahn (6/11/20). “Most Americans, including Republicans, support sweeping Democratic police reform proposal.” Reuters.

Carolyn Funk et. al. (10/17/12). Genetic and Environmental Transmission of Political Orientations. Political Psychology 34 (6). 

“Colin Firth credited in brain research” (6/5/11). BBC News. 

Ryota Kanai et. al. (April 2011). Political Orientations are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults. Current Biology 21 (8). 

H.H. Nam et. al. (2018). Amygdala structure and the tendency to regard the social system as legitimate and desirable. Nature Human Behavior 2, 133–138.

Katie Glueck (4/29/13). “Christie: Obama Delivered on Sandy.” Politico. 

Jerry Suls (5/4/20). “Leon Festinger.” Encyclopedia Britannica

1994
2017

In 1986, 34 Democratic and 29 Republican Senators signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, creating a citizenship path for illegal immigrants while making it a Federal crime to employ illegal workers. The House also voted in favor, 238 to 173. The bill was signed into law on November 6, 1986. 

congress.gov

In 1972, 17 Republican Senators joined 35 Democratic Senators to override the Nixon Administration veto of the Clean Water Act, a landmark piece of environmental legislation. The House override vote was 247 to 23, including 96 Republicans and 151 Democrats in the majority.

govtrack.us

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