Concept: Political philosophy
Libertarians are an increasingly prominent ideological group in U.S. politics, yet they have been largely unstudied. Across 16 measures in a large web-based sample that included 11,994 self-identified libertarians, we sought to understand the moral and psychological characteristics of self-described libertarians. Based on an intuitionist view of moral judgment, we focused on the underlying affective and cognitive dispositions that accompany this unique worldview. Compared to self-identified liberals and conservatives, libertarians showed 1) stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding principle, and weaker endorsement of all other moral principles; 2) a relatively cerebral as opposed to emotional cognitive style; and 3) lower interdependence and social relatedness. As predicted by intuitionist theories concerning the origins of moral reasoning, libertarian values showed convergent relationships with libertarian emotional dispositions and social preferences. Our findings add to a growing recognition of the role of personality differences in the organization of political attitudes.
According to a “parasite stress” hypothesis, authoritarian governments are more likely to emerge in regions characterized by a high prevalence of disease-causing pathogens. Recent cross-national evidence is consistent with this hypothesis, but there are inferential limitations associated with that evidence. We report two studies that address some of these limitations, and provide further tests of the hypothesis. Study 1 revealed that parasite prevalence strongly predicted cross-national differences on measures assessing individuals' authoritarian personalities, and this effect statistically mediated the relationship between parasite prevalence and authoritarian governance. The mediation result is inconsistent with an alternative explanation for previous findings. To address further limitations associated with cross-national comparisons, Study 2 tested the parasite stress hypothesis on a sample of traditional small-scale societies (the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample). Results revealed that parasite prevalence predicted measures of authoritarian governance, and did so even when statistically controlling for other threats to human welfare. (One additional threat-famine-also uniquely predicted authoritarianism.) Together, these results further substantiate the parasite stress hypothesis of authoritarianism, and suggest that societal differences in authoritarian governance result, in part, from cultural differences in individuals' authoritarian personalities.
The traditional vertical system of sharing information from sources of scientific authority passed down to the public through local health authorities and clinicians risks being made obsolete by emerging technologies that facilitate rapid horizontal information sharing. The rise of Public Health 2.0 requires professional acknowledgment that a new and substantive forum of public discourse about public health exists on social media, such as forums, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
As social scientists have investigated the political and social factors influencing public opinion in science-related policy debates, there has been growing interest in the implications of this research for public communication and outreach. Given the level of political polarization in the United States, much of the focus has been on partisan differences in public opinion, the strategies employed by political leaders and advocates that promote those differences, and the counter-strategies for overcoming them. Yet this focus on partisan differences tends to overlook the processes by which core beliefs about science and society impact public opinion and how these schema are often activated by specific frames of reference embedded in media coverage and popular discourse. In this study, analyzing cross-sectional, nationally representative survey data collected between 2002 and 2010, we investigate the relative influence of political partisanship and science-related schema on Americans' support for embryonic stem cell research. In comparison to the influence of partisan identity, our findings suggest that generalized beliefs about science and society were more chronically accessible, less volatile in relation to media attention and focusing events, and an overall stronger influence on public opinion. Classifying respondents into four unique audience groups based on their beliefs about science and society, we additionally find that individuals within each of these groups split relatively evenly by partisanship but differ on other important dimensions. The implications for public engagement and future research on controversies related to biomedical science are discussed.
Punishment offers a powerful mechanism for the maintenance of cooperation in human and animal societies, but the maintenance of costly punishment itself remains problematic. Game theory has shown that corruption, where punishers can defect without being punished themselves, may sustain cooperation. However, in many human societies and some insect ones, high levels of cooperation coexist with low levels of corruption, and such societies show greater wellbeing than societies with high corruption. Here we show that small payments from cooperators to punishers can destabilize corrupt societies and lead to the spread of punishment without corruption (righteousness). Righteousness can prevail even in the face of persistent power inequalities. The resultant righteous societies are highly stable and have higher wellbeing than corrupt ones. This result may help to explain the persistence of costly punishing behavior, and indicates that corruption is a sub-optimal tool for maintaining cooperation in human societies.
With its Choosing Wisely campaign, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation boldly invited professional societies to own their role as “stewards of finite health care resources.”(1) Beginning in 2009, the National Physicians Alliance, funded by the ABIM Foundation, guided volunteers from three primary care specialties through the development of “Top Five” lists - specialty-specific enumerations of five achievable practice changes to improve patient health through better treatment choices, reduced risks and, where possible, reduced costs.(2) In April 2012, the effort was expanded and launched as the Choosing Wisely campaign, with lists from nine specialty societies and a patient-education . . .
We investigated the moral stereotypes political liberals and conservatives have of themselves and each other. In reality, liberals endorse the individual-focused moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives do, and conservatives endorse the group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity more than liberals do. 2,212 U.S. participants filled out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire with their own answers, or as a typical liberal or conservative would answer. Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about “typical” liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup’s morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.
When the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda begins on September 25, the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) is expected to garner substantial attention. Bolstered by increasing evidence that UHC improves health outcomes,(1) countries are seeking to build health-related goals around the concept of health care for all. Yet many lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have not created UHC systems (see map). How can the global community translate vision into policy, especially in the face of complicated politics? To elucidate some of the political dynamics involved, we developed a conceptual model describing sociopolitical factors . . .
Over human evolutionary history, upper-body strength has been a major component of fighting ability. Evolutionary models of animal conflict predict that actors with greater fighting ability will more actively attempt to acquire or defend resources than less formidable contestants will. Here, we applied these models to political decision making about redistribution of income and wealth among modern humans. In studies conducted in Argentina, Denmark, and the United States, men with greater upper-body strength more strongly endorsed the self-beneficial position: Among men of lower socioeconomic status (SES), strength predicted increased support for redistribution; among men of higher SES, strength predicted increased opposition to redistribution. Because personal upper-body strength is irrelevant to payoffs from economic policies in modern mass democracies, the continuing role of strength suggests that modern political decision making is shaped by an evolved psychology designed for small-scale groups.
The U.S. government is in partial shutdown. Federal employees who are not engaged in activities considered absolutely essential are on furlough. It is like a hospital at 03:00: the skeleton crew is on, but the machine is not humming. The reason for the government shutdown is a political standoff over funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the United States is a democracy, the best way to reopen the government - which provides numerous important services in the health sector, such as approval of drugs, devices, and diagnostics, surveillance for emerging infectious diseases, research into the biology and treatment . . .