Beyond threat and uncertainty: The underpinnings of conservatism

T. Proulx, M.J. Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Social scientists study social categories. In recent years, an account has emerged of one particular social category, an atavistic portrayal of a cohort whose genes were selected for in a primitive stage of human history, whose behaviors are shaped by a heightened sensitivity to negative experiences, and who are characterized by relatively lower intelligence, close-mindedness and diminished capacity to detect cognitive error. This account of the social category in question—conservatives—has proliferated in the social sciences and the popular press, though to arrive at these conclusions, we suggest that researchers have had to gloss over relevant ideological dimensions within conservatism and distinctions within the negativity bias construct. Our aim with this introduction, and the special issue that follows, is to outline a more nuanced relationship between conservatism and negativity, and to examine the consequences of this atavistic portrayal for the social sciences and the general public.
KEYWORDS: conservatism, negativity bias, political neuroscience, genetic essentialism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-323
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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