In search of the moral-psychological and neuroevolutionary basis of political partisanship
Vitor Geraldi Haase1-4; Isabella Starling-Alves2
keywords: personality, partisanship, politics, self-deception.
In many countries, a radical political divide brings several socially relevant decisions to a standstill. Could cognitive, affective and social (CAS) neuroscience help better understand these questions? The present article reviews the moral-psychological and neuroevolutionary basis of the political partisanship divide. A non-systematic literature review and a conceptual analysis were conducted. Three main points are identified and discussed: 1) Political partisan behavior rests upon deep moral emotions. It is automatically processed and impervious to contradiction. The moral motifs characterizing political partisanship are epigenetically set across different cultures; 2) Political partisanship is linked to personality traits, whose neural foundations are associated with moral feelings and judgement; 3) Self-deception is a major characteristic of political partisanship that probably evolved as an evolutionary adaptive strategy to deal with the intragroup-extragroup dynamics of human evolution. CAS neuroscience evidence may not resolve the political divide, but can contribute to a better understanding of its biological foundations.