Gay marriage. Climate change. Stem cell research. Those are just a few of the issues that often spark disagreement between self-identified liberals and conservatives in the United States. But is this just a matter of differing ideologies—or different psychological makeups? In a provocative new book, The Republican Brain, author Chris Mooney argues that social and psychological science suggest that political identities reflect underlying personality traits and psychological needs. For example, while conservatives typically desire certainty, liberals often seek novelty.
But can psychology really explain the shifting sands of political perspective? Or why some people accept scientific explanations for climate change or evolution—and others don’t?
Join us for a different kind of “political science” discussion with Mooney and Gordon Gauchat, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies public perceptions of science and has tested some of Mooney’s ideas.
Our live chat starts at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 10 May, on this page. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts. The full text of the chat will be archived on this page.
Chris Mooney is host of the Point of Inquiry podcast and the author of three books, The Republican War on Science, Storm World, and Unscientific America. He was recently seen on MSNBC's "The Last Word" discussing "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science,"
Gordon Gauchat's primary research interest is in the cultural authority of science in the public sphere. This research examines the social, cultural, and political factors associated with how various publics view science-in-society, in terms of attitudes toward scientific knowledge as well as the definition of “science.”