President Donald Trump tours a Honeywell International Inc. factory producing N95 masks in Phoenix, Arizona. In recent years, there’s been an explosion of academic work on the psychological foundations of our politics. The basic theory goes like this: Some people are innately more suspicious of change, of outsiders, of novelty. That base orientation will nudge them toward living in the town where they grew up, eating the foods they know and love, worshipping in the church their parents attended. It will also nudge them toward political conservatism.
The reverse is true, too. Some people are naturally more oriented toward newness, toward diversity, toward disruption. That base orientation will push them to live in big cities, try exotic foods, travel widely, appreciate weird art, sample different spiritualities. It will also nudge them toward political liberalism.
In Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences, John Alford, John Hibbing, and Kevin Smith summarize the evidence: Numerous studies have linked these personality dimensions to differences in the mix of tastes and preferences that seem to reliably separate liberals and conservatives. People who score high on openness, for example, tend to like envelope-pushing music and abstract art. People who score high on conscientiousness are […]