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About the Book

We are living through an especially divisive moment in history...

Our political, social, and economic landscape is increasingly fractured, and a vast chasm seems to separate people on the left from people on the right. Likewise, many Americans are worried and confused about the explosive political upheavals in places like Syria, Egypt, North Korea, and Iran. Time and again, too, our government has been caught flatfooted. We must find a new way to comprehend these problems at a much deeper and more objective level.

There are three questions that are absolutely fundamental to how we understand the future of our country and our world: What are the root causes of our debilitating left-right divide? Where do our political orientations really come from? And how can we predict the eruption of political instability in flash points around the globe? Today’s commentators would have us believe that our political behavior comes from our views about the main issues of the day, such as ObamaCare, or from our economic circumstances, or our longtime affiliations with this political party or that.

This is wrong, or at least incomplete. For the last ten years, I’ve been researching the puzzle of political orientation, both during my career advising heads of state on shaping public opinion and during my doctoral work in evolutionary anthropology at Stanford University. During this inquiry, I’ve drawn together dozens of cutting-edge insights from neuroscience, primatology, and genetics, and they lead to this revealing conclusion: our political orientations are deeply ingrained natural dispositions, molded within each of us by powerful evolutionary forces. (...)

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Here is Just a Quick Preview of What you will find inside:

Table of Contents

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Chapter 1

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Chapter 2

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Index

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From Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us (Prometheus Books, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Avi Tuschman.
All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.



About the Author


My name is Avi Tuschman, and I’m a political anthropologist based in Washington, DC. I’m also the author of the newly published book Our Political Nature. This book has been a true journey of discovery.

My adventure began in 2002 in Peru, as the country was recovering from an internal war with Communist insurgents that had killed 70,000 people. I found myself on the inside of a nasty political conflict over the world’s second largest gold mine. To exploit new reserves or not to? And if so, how? I was researching the situation for a political-risk consulting firm, and we were looking for ways to defuse the situation and find a solution satisfactory to both sides. The deeper I looked, though, the more shocked I was at how radically different people’s political perceptions were. There was almost no way to bridge the gap. (...)

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Reviews, Articles, and Press


An Opening Remarks essay in Businessweek on the aging political personality: "Why do young voters lean left?"


你是自由派还是保守派 (本文来自商业周刊中文版)


"Το αν είσαι φιλελεύθερος ή συντηρητικός ίσως εξαρτάται περισσότερο από τη λειτουργιά του εγκεφάλου..."


"De los conservadores a los socialistas: ¿Cuál es la psicología de las ideologías?"


Atualidade Política DF: "A neurociência passa a ser usada em campanha eleitoral"


A discussion on the Kathleen Dunn Show about aging and political orientation (begins at minute 8:28)


"The Origin of Ideology: Are left and right a feature (or bug) of evolution?" By Chris Mooney


Georgetown Public Policy Review interviews Avi Tuschman on Our Political Nature


Why has political polarization in America been on the rise over the past fifty years? The answer involves education and mate choice.


The DelanceyPlace book blog sent out an excerpt from Chapter 2 to over 80,000 subscribers (March 2014).


"Three Questions for Avi Tuschman"


"Naît-on ou devient-on libéral, socialiste ou conservateur?"


"L’origine évolutionniste de l’orientation politique"


O livro tenta “explicar com um caminhão de evidências as razões de as pessoas terem posições mais à direita ou mais à esquerda” (veja o vídeo, 12:17).


Kelly Carlin interviews Avi Tuschman on her radio show "Waking from the American Dream" (January 2014).


About.com features Our Political Nature in their top five evolution books of 2013


“Freelance philosopher” Jonathan Rée argues that “science adds little to our understanding of moral philosophy.”


Americas Quarterly features Our Political Nature among "the best new books on policy, economics, and business in the hemisphere."


An in-depth interview on politics and evolutionary theory, with The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur


Segments on genes and political beliefs, Elizabeth Warren, police cellphone tapping, and "the knockout game."


"Avi Tuschman y Nuestra Naturaleza Política," una entrevista con Natalia Gnecco


"Por qué los inmigrantes se afilian más a partidos liberales"


Biz Asia America interview about how economics and demographics affect political spectrums


Lund University's Association of Foreign Affairs reviews the book in their publication Utrikesperspektiv


NYC Media's "Book Case TV" features Our Political Nature (minute 24:30)


La revista Tercera Cultura ha traducido a español el capítulo dos del libro, "El animal político universal"


Stanford Magazine's "Shelf Life" features Our Political Nature (Nov/Dec 2013)


Forbes columnist Cedric Muhammad's review of the book: "What Centrist-Independents Reveal about Liberals and Conservatives"


"Why Are We Liberal or Conservative? -- Q&A with Dr. Avi Tuschman"


The Chicago Tribune reprinted Forbes's Q&A


Nuestra naturaleza política: Los orígenes evolutivos de lo que nos divide


"Can Your Genes Predict Whether You'll Be a Conservative or a Liberal?"


"Prosperidad en melodrama." El aumento de la clase media ha bajado la polarización política en América Latina.


Avi Tuschman returns home to Menlo Park to shed insight into Our Political Nature


The Journal of Democracy features Our Political Nature in its "Books Received" section in Oct. 2013.


El Blog "Comunicación a la Deriva" entrevista a Avi Tuschman, autor de Nuestra naturaleza política


MSNBC's The Cycle asks, "Nature or nurture? How DNA may guide our vote."


Salon published an article about Malala and the roots of gender inequality. This is a very condensed sketch of Chapter 12.


Carrie Sheffield wrote an attack article in Forbes against an excerpt from the book. Here's my response.


Washington, DC's Jewish news bulletin reviews Our Political Nature


"En América Latina el crecimiento de la clase media ha hecho que se encoja el espectro político"


"Hacia una comprensión más profunda de nuestra naturaleza política"


"An interesting and timely read considering the current government shutdown"


"The Science of Political Orientation": An interview with Atul Singh, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fair Observer.


Thomas Edsall referenced the book while contemplating political polarization in the US. Chapters 3, 6, and 10 answer his question.


Salon published an excerpt from Chapter 17, "Sages through the Ages" (which is about human nature), under a provocative title


Politico Bookshelf features Our Political Nature by Avi Tuschman


Marginal Revolution features "Three good new books on politics"


Alternet published an excerpt from Chapter 6, "Ethnocentrism vs. Xenophilia," under a provocative title


"The Science of Politics: From the Gut, The Evolutionary Roots of Partisanship"


"A ciência por trás da política: As raízes evolucionárias do partidarismo"


A website of India's Congress Party has recommended Our Political Nature


Science Magazine featured Our Political Nature in August 2013


Political Science Catalog 2013-2014: New & Recommended Books for Course Adoption


Reader reviews on Amazon.com



  • Best book I've read on [the topic].

    - MICHAEL SHERMER, Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, and columnist for Scientific American
  • Tuschman’s book attempts a feat that those of us monitoring the emerging science of politics have long been waiting for -- explaining the now well-documented psychological, biological, and genetic differences between liberals and conservatives with reference to human evolution and the differential strategies of mate choice and resource allocation that have been forced on us by the pressures of surviving and reproducing on a quite dangerous planet. ...If he’s right, a dramatic new window opens on who we are and why we behave as we do.

    - CHRIS MOONEY, Award-winning author and science and political journalist, in Washington Monthly
  • Political pundits on the left and right are rushing to grab pieces of Our Political Nature to substantiate their own biases, and this is understandable enough: this is a book of stunning scope and importance. The canvas here is global, and to put it bluntly I've never read anything this fascinating or compelling. I suspect this book will be a cause for heated debate in political and intellectual circles for a long time to come.

    - PAUL CHUTKOW, Author and journalist
  • Think of this book as the next step after Jonathan Haidt.

    - TYLER COWEN, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
  • The first book I’ve read that credibly attempts to present a unified view of political science, anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, and primatology. ...offers a penetrating explanation for why Americans (and the rest of the world) vote on a left-right spectrum, even against self and economic interest.

    - Cedric Muhammad, in Forbes
  • A tour de force interdisciplinary work of cross-cultural insights that is at the same time disquieting, stimulating, and hopeful in its observations about humankind's evolutionary heritage and future. ...this book may provide the starting point for the political equivalent of the American Psychology Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by allowing citizens to identify extremists on both sides of the political spectrum. And sadly, this may be an increasingly necessary tool.

    - PATRICK A. STEWART, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Arkansas, and author of Debatable Humor: Laughing Matters on the 2008 Presidential Primary Campaign
  • Tuschman's book will change the way you see yourself, the way you hear the news, and perhaps the way you behave as a political agent. We are living in a time of alarming partisanship, but Tuschman's ideas left me with a surprising respect for the spectrum of political attitudes. Both liberals and conservatives embody behaviors tested by human needs over eons of time. In all our predictable diversity, we human beings are the inarguable descendents of life's winners, those who have found a path to the present moment, a hard-won existence, a tentative victory. But the same triumphant attitudes that have brought us to this place could also lead us blindly to our destruction. Beginning to glimpse and understand who we are has never been more important. Read this book.

    - TERESA BUCZINSKY, High school teacher, Arlington Heights, Illinois
  • Je recommande fortement cet excellent ouvrage d’Avi Tuschman, auquel je suis loin de rendre justice dans ce court article. C’est sérieusement une lecture incontournable.

    - LE MINARCHISTE, dans la revue Contrepoints
  • Our Political Nature shows us that there are evolutionary underpinnings to our political attitudes, and that being liberal or conservative may reflect much deeper tendencies than we are inclined to think. This book is important reading for anyone trying to understand the sources of our present-day political world.

    - FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, New York Times-bestselling author of The Origins of Political Order
  • In a remarkable interdisciplinary tour de force, evolutionary anthropologist Avi Tuschman integrates findings from social psychology, genetics, and neuroscience to provide a rich understanding of the polarization in politics throughout history, and of man’s inhumanity to man. In Our Political Nature he makes clear that be it vote choice or the decision to go to war, our politics are the product of the passions that drive us, which are deeply rooted in humanity’s evolutionary origins.

    - JERROLD M. POST, MD, Director, Political Psychology Program at the George Washington University, and author of Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World
  • At a time when unexpected political turmoil and economic crashes have exposed how feeble is our understanding of the forces that drive these crises, Our Political Nature provides a welcome respite from the intellectual confusion now reigning. In these pages Avi Tuschman offers a fascinating perspective on the deepest roots of the clashes that are changing our world.

    - MOISÉS NAÍM, Author of The End of Power and former editor in chief of Foreign Policy