Resolving the difference between evolutionary antecedents of political attitudes and sources of human variation

Adam Lockyer, Peter K. Hatemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Humans, despite the country they inhabit, the social structures they constitute, and the forms of governments they live under, universally possess political attitudes; that is, those attitudes towards sexual norms, out-groups, resource allocation, cooperation and fairness. It has been proposed that this near universal manifestation across societies remains ingrained in the psychological architecture of humans because of human evolution. However, there is enormous variation in political attitudes within and across populations, and this variation is not merely a function of social differences but derives, in part, through neurobiological differences within human populations. Thus, there is great confusion on the difference between what has evolved as universal, and what is due to individual variation. This confusion, results, in part on the lack of integration of the theoretical mechanisms that addresses how humans vary within evolutionarily adaptive universals. Here we seek to fill this lacuna by explicating how evolutionary biology and psychology account for the universal need for humans to have political attitudes while neurobiological differences account for variation within those evolved structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-568
Number of pages20
JournalCanadian Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 7 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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