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Cooperative phenotype predicts economic conservatism, policy views, and political party support

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Atkinson,  Quentin Douglas
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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https://osf.io/dwx8g/
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Citation

Claessens, S., Sibley, C., Chaudhuri, A., & Atkinson, Q. D. (2020). Cooperative phenotype predicts economic conservatism, policy views, and political party support. PsyArXiv Preprints. doi:10.31234/osf.io/t7rqb.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-5C17-9
Abstract
Decades of research suggest that our political differences are best captured by two dimensions of political ideology: economic and social conservatism. The dual evolutionary framework of political ideology predicts that these dimensions should be related to variation in general preferences for cooperation and group conformity. Here, we show that, controlling for a host of demographic covariates, a general cooperative preference captured by a suite of incentivised economic games (the "cooperative phenotype") is indeed negatively correlated with two widely-used measures of economic conservatism - Social Dominance Orientation and Schwartz's altruistic vs. self-enhancement values. The cooperative phenotype also predicts political party support and economically progressive views on political issues like income redistribution, welfare, taxation, and environmentalism. By contrast, a second "norm-enforcing punishment" dimension of economic game behaviour, expected to be a proxy for social conservatism and group conformity, showed no reliable relationship with political ideology. These findings reveal how general social preferences that evolved to help us navigate the challenges of group living continue to shape our political differences even today.