The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies presents:

“Genetics, Neuroscience, and International Politics”

with Dr. Rose McDermott
Professor of Political Science, Brown University

Moderated by Jack Snyder
Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations, Columbia University

This event is free and open to the public.

Political science has traditionally assumed the social and political behaviors have social causes. Discoveries beginning in the late 1970s began to demonstrate genetic influences on political orientations. Work in this area has burgeoned in the last decade, showing biological influences on a wide variety of political behaviors, including voting behavior and political participation. While we cannot yet precisely map how genes influence those psychological processes and biological mechanisms which interact with our upbringing, social environment and personal experience in ways that come to be expressed as differences on the Liberal-Conservative spectrum, we can demonstrate the systematic and predictable top-down effect of political ideology on a wide range of important social and political behaviors. These differences manifest in domains as diverse as emotional response, physiological reactivity and basic attentional focus across a variety of domains, including those which affect attitudes toward military and defense, immigration and reproductive health policies.

Rose McDermott is a scholar of political psychology whose research includes the impact of emotion on decision-making, social identity, and evolutionary and neuroscientific models of political science. Her latest book, Presidential Leadership, Illness and Decision Making (Cambridge University Press, 2007), examines the effects of aging, mental illness, physical disability, and drug addiction on the foreign policies of American presidents. Dr. McDermott holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and an M.A. in Psychology from Stanford University.