Demographic Dangers & Declining Birth Rates, Part Four: Culture Wars, Morality, & Psychology.

Governments ignore demographic trends at their peril. Very few factors exert such strong influences on great power competition like changes in the size, capabilities & make-up of a nations population. Right-wing nationalist narratives are leveraging psychological factors including conservative predispositions to maximise their arguments for short-term gain over long-term stability.

Peter Winn-Brown
21 min readMay 19, 2023
A male peacock displays his tail feathers to advertise his vitality, fertility and health.
A male peacock displays his tail feathers advertising his vitality, fertility and health.

“…//…many political scientists and psychologists have argued against the notion that (an) individuals issue positions passively track their liberal–conservative ‘’team’’ preference. Instead, these researchers suggest that individuals are psychologically prepared (by their genes, childhood experiences, personality characteristics, positions in society, etc.) to adopt some policy positions more easily than others.”

Koleva, Graham, Iyer, Ditto & Haidt. (1).

Our political persuasions; not so much written in the stars, as written in our DNA?

Could it really be true? Are we all merely slaves to our chemical constituents, or there is more going on here?

At the end of Part Three of this series I quoted from a Foreign Affairs article by Casey and Nexon who pointed out the many similarities between the fascist regimes of the 1920–30’s and many of today’s right-wing groups and parties. One common theme is the adoption of right-wing narratives to “present specific outsiders (racial, ethnic, religious, or whatever) as foreign pathogens.”

In his oft quoted 1995 essay Ur-fascism, Umberto Eco, who lived through the interwar and wartime periods of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s as a boy and young man in an Italy in thrall to Mussolini, wrote this which summarises the fascist appeal to what we might call a conservatives intolerance to ambiguity, or as Eco calls it, a fear of difference:

“No syncretistic (i.e. the contradictory merging of different forms or beliefs of practice, or what Orwell called ‘doublethink’ in 1984) faith can withstand analytical criticism. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason…/…Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”

Thus, the first appeal of fascism is to present outsiders (the fascist ‘them’), be they racial, ethnic, religious or anything else, as something akin to a foreign pathogen, and definitely not like (the fascist) ‘us’.

But to clarify once again since people who hold right wing views don’t seem to get the message; I am not saying that right-wing groups who promote narratives that are anti-immigrant or anti-refugee are fascist. What I am saying that those narratives have much in common with the fascist regimes of the 20th Century, and have a distinct whiff of fascism about them.

And whilst the ‘us and them’ narrative which forms the base characteristic of fascist movements (2), was highly exportable during the inter-war period, and remains so today, there was no collective common ideological ground that always made stitching together the racist threads of fascism across the world a tenuous, fraught process.

And as I showed in Part Three the demonisation of outsiders is a wholly racist practice; the racial, ethnic, religious or otherwise different subject of racist demonisation is typically different in each case, and this disparity was a major obstacle to the attainment of a ‘fascist international’ during the 1934 and 1935 fascist conventions at Montreux.

The memory of many of those original fascist movements has largely faded beside the supreme evil archetype of Nazi Germany, and to some extent that of Italy too, but the reality was that fascist ideal was widespread across Europe, the Americas, and Asia in the early part of the 20th Century.

Today’s right-wing movements and political parties are similarly widespread, with Casey and Nexon suggesting that were they to be transported back to the 1930’s, the casual observer might see them as indistinguishable from the original fascists, or at the very least, see them as ‘fascist-adjacent.’

However, as much as analysts might wish to draw comparisons between now and then, democratic governments they suggest, would do far better to concentrate their efforts on the political comparisons rather than labelling or trying to idealise today’s right-wing groups and movements.

The dynamics of interwar fascism shed a good deal of light on modern reactionary populism” they suggest, in that they tend to support, copy and emulate each other, and that is especially true in the use anti-immigrant, anti- ‘them’ rhetoric which remains remarkably similar across the reactionary populist, budding authoritarian board.

And plainly the reason for that is because it works.

And perhaps the reason it works is hidden not just in the use of the words, tropes, or content of the message, but in the psychology, and perhaps even the genes of those who are the targets of this rhetoric.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu walked with his supporters to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Pro-democracy, pro-Europe, pro-Freedom, Kilicdaroglu presents a vision of Turkey that is the polar opposite of the incumbent, Recip Tayyip Erdogan. Image from The Times. Adem Altan.AFP.Getty Images.

“…facial birthmarks, physical disabilities or something as innocent as differences in skin color and ethnicity are subconsciously misinterpreted as cues of potential infection risk with skepticism and distance-taking as outcomes.”

Lene Aaroe, Professor of Political Science, speaking to Thomas Edsall.

Moralising over political persuasion…

Given the growing socio-political divisions developing all across the West, in April last year Thomas Edsall asked a very big question in a NYT OP-Ed; “Where does all the hate we feel come from?”

Personally, I find ‘hate’ to be a very, very, strong word; one that I find difficult to use and even harder to feel. That said, it is probably an apt word to describe the strength of feeling that many on either side of the socio-political divide feel for the other right now, regardless of what my feeling on the subject may be.

And the right and left of the political divide do seem to have remarkably different reactions to the issue of immigration and all that surrounds it.

And it’s not just the political differences; this issue, like many others, stirs deep emotions, profound feelings, and has a distinct moral edge to each side of the debate.

But why do people divide so clearly on this issue, among many others? Are they merely following the ‘team’ that they have traditionally supported, or that their friends support? Or do people separate out individual issues and make decisions on a pro-rata basis? Or is there another, unseen component at work?

The common perception had always been that people were simply making passive decisions to follow their ‘teams’ positions and policies, and were even capable of adopting an array of contradictory positions if they believed their team had proposed them (1) — Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ once again.

However, in contrast to this, many political scientists and psychologists have searched for the reasons people, or groups, cohere on political issues, matching these choices to various cognitive structures, epistemological orientations, existential needs and motivated cognitions (or thought processes) (1).

New research though now suggests that over and above these known factors, there may be a clear moral component that predisposes each individual to be more accepting of some positions than others (1).

Table 1. below {which I adapted from (1)} provides a brief summary on what has constituted previously accepted conceptualisations on the morality of political choice, and more specifically the conservative-liberal divide in the U.S.

A quick glance at the table confirms the base positions of each side of the political divide as most see it. Conservatives see morality existing outside of any human choices made, and like to see a strong leader, or father figure, as a prerequisite for a political leader, and tend to see the world, or society at large, as dangerous, pernicious and in need of strict discipline or the harsh application of law and order to keep it in check. They are largely mistrusting of new things, people or ideas, and remain tolerant of social inequalities.

Liberals, in contrast, believe morality is more flexible and can change with the times, and prefer to be led by an understanding, nurturing leader who will provide the necessary resources and guidance to see them and their children or people, succeed in what is seen as a largely safe, secure environment.

Table 1. Existing moral conceptualisations of the conservative-liberal divide.
Table 1. Existing moral conceptualisations of the conservative-liberal divide. Adapted from Koleva, Graham, Iyer, Ditto & Haidt. (1). References quoted to be found in (1).

In Table 1. above, all three of the studies listed started from different hypothetical beginnings, but in the end converged around the idea that coherence to cultural and political views can be attributed to disparate affinities toward change versus stability, as well as to the related issues of hierarchy and equality.

For example, Jost et al (2003) suggested “that conservatives (compared to liberals) have higher needs for order, structure, and closure; they are lower on tolerance of ambiguity, integrative complexity, and openness to experience, and they score higher on measures of death anxiety and fear of threats to the stability of the social system (3).

But beyond these affinities further psychological studies have suggested that the influence of moral motives, and an individuals innate reactions to five moral foundations that produce strong knee-jerk reactions of ‘like’ or ‘dislike,’ which in turns engenders a moral judgement of ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ that in turn, can predict which camp — liberal or conservative — a person may fall into (1).

The five moral foundations are harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, in-group/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity.

Without going into a long winded explanation on each foundation, suffice to say that, in respect of this discussion, it is the last one; purity/sanctity, that we are interested in.

The purity/sanctity foundation is based on the emotion of disgust in response to biological contaminants (e.g. feces or rotten food), and to various social contaminants like spiritual corruption, or the inability to control one’s base impulses (1).”

It would be true to say that each culture or society, holds different moral valuations on each of the above foundations, and places varying degrees of moral virtue on each foundation, that may vary even within groups to some degree based on “gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background (1).”

Furthermore, liberals and conservatives may place different weight on each of the foundations, making one foundation of more concern than another, when compared to the other group.

Indeed, such weighty concerns have long been known and recognised, albeit anecdotally. Herodotus (4) tells us how “everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and the religion he was brought up in, to be the best…

By way of illustration Herodotus tells us how King Darius of the Persians summoned some Greeks to his court and asked them how much it would take for them to eat the corpses of their fathers. They replied, unsurprisingly, they would not do it for all the money in the world.

Then, with the Greeks still present, along with a translator, he asked some Indians of the Callatiae tribe, who did actually eat their dead fathers, if they would burn the corpses of their father as the Greeks do. But “they uttered a cry of horror and forbade him to mention such a dreadful thing.”

Whilst such an anecdote does not relate directly to problems of 21st Century demographics, it does go to show how even two and half thousand years ago the differential weight of moral concerns between groups or tribes was recognised, and that we would do well to bear that in mind when moralising about the ‘other teams’ deficiencies or amoral responses in respect of today’s divisive issues.

But it’s not like we haven’t been here before though. Speaking on the podcast ‘The Last Great Hope’ (13) Lauren Haumesser and Mark Power Smith suggest that Culture Wars, and more specifically issues with respect to women’s rights, were a large contributory factor in the outbreak of the American Civil War — for more on that have a listen!

That aside, in many ways Herodotus’ observation of the cultural wisdom of Darius is backed up by today’s science. Koleva et al (2012)(1) have shown that the moral foundations theory (MFT) (i.e. the use of the five moral foundations above) can be useful in predicting an individuals position on (political) issues beyond questions of demographics, ideology and socio-political attitudes such as right-wing authoritarianism *(RWA) and social dominance theory **(SDO), and that coherence occurs largely following the ‘team’ position.

So basically individuals, once they have chosen a ‘team,’ tend to follow the team position regardless of the demographics and other political positions they may hold as has been traditionally considered, but the choices made are not passive, and do have a strong moral component that can effect the force of the reaction/choice to each issue.

However, the moral issues do not explain why an individual chooses their ‘team’ in the first place which may be determined by other factors, such as physiology or genetics. That said, MFT can help explain why some issues go together even when they seem to be, on the face of it, contradictory.

And this is most clearly defined in Purity issues related to sexuality and sexual relationships, sanctity of life, and immigration. Since purity is closely related to issues of religion and religiosity, which are irrespective of church attendance and depth of religious devotion, but is related to a “more general moral sensitivity to issues of sanctity, self-transcendence, and self-control (1).

An example of the ability to hold contradictory attitudes is with respect to the sanctity of life. So-called pro-lifers are anti-abortion, but are very often pro-death penalty, and experience no apparent awareness of any contradiction in that position.

Koleva et al (2003)(1) suggest this is because issues with respect to abortion — the most commonly associated issue related to pro-lifers — are Purity issues, and contrast with attitudes towards the death penalty which actually fall under the moral foundation of Harm, not Purity. The disparity occurs perhaps because those who support the death penalty relate to the harm the perpetrator has already committed on the victim, whereas those opposing the death penalty imagine the harm being done at the moment of execution, as well as showing greater concern about the possibility of wrongful conviction.

Because the moral issue is different in each case people holding these seemingly contradictory attitudes can thus hold the two opinions separately without seeing any contradiction.

Interestingly, I discussed this ability to hold two contradictory ideas in my post Republican’s Traditionalist Revival…, Part One, where I discussed a WaPo Op-Ed by Jason Willock.

Willock suggested that the threat to American democracy, as many see it — myself included I might add — including Biden and the Democrats see it, is not from a usurper system, but may in fact come from within democratic ideology itself.

Based on a study by Danish academic Suthan Krishnarajan, Willock said the popular notion of the defence of democracy is another version of the ‘them and us’ battle, this time between those who are seen as ‘democratic’ and those who are not. But Krishnarajan threads the needle of political polarisation by illustrating that “citizens who self-consciously support democracy (in this instance Republicans) can simultaneously support undemocratic actions on a large scale when it suits their political interests — and not recognize the contradiction.

Willock then points out that 6th January insurrection was animated by a “desire to protect democracy from fraud.” The fact that that desire was based on lies and misconceptions is neither here nor there; many of those storming the capital may have been doing so from the genuine belief that their democracy was under threat.

I digress…

Attitudes to in-group loyalty can also be predicted by Purity and are strongly associated to issues surrounding foreign policy, such as defence spending, attitudes to torture/interrogation, confronting terrorism and enemies, which can also raise other concerns about human rights, foreign relations, including attitudes to allies.

Either knowingly or unknowingly, populists and right-wingers who portray immigrants, refugees and ethnic others as enemies, terrorists, threats to the state, impure, and so on, are plugging into conservative morality directly, flicking the switch to invoke a ‘fear of difference’ response.

But, whilst MFT can be useful in predicting attitudes to some issues, it cannot predict the base concerns or the development of the moral attitudes that lead an individual to join one group or another.

A poster saying ‘Fox lies, democracy dies’ with images of three of their presenters.
Those fine human beings at Fox News; known for their honest integrity, factual reporting and political neutrality! (This is from their press release so it must be true, right?) And I was just so sad to see the back of Tucker Carlson! …Whoever said Americans don’t get irony?

“Issues of virtue and morality have to be at the forefront today. Without that, Russia has future…How can we talk about the rights of homosexuals and lesbians in light of this? All those attempts to organise gay parades, the introduction of sex education in schools — all this aims to defile our young people, and we must say a clear and definitive ‘no’ to that! Otherwise we will lose Russia (5).”

Vladimir Dobrenkov, Dean of Moscow State University’s sociology department, 2008. His opening comments at an International Conference on “Societal Norms and the Possibility of Societal Development.” However, for me substitute Florida for Russia and it could be Ron DeSantis speaking today. Oh, and to be clear… ‘all those attempts’ he refers to, are a single, half-hearted attempt to start a Gay Pride Parade in Moscow…that never actually happened!

The behavioural immune system…

The basic driving force behind anti-immigration rhetoric is intolerance of ambiguity, or fear of difference, but it should be stressed, says psychologist Peter Ditto, that “…this should not be taken to mean that these people view immigrants in a dehumanized way (as some kind of vermin) — that would be taking it too far. It is much more implicit than that — just a general valuation of purity and discomfort with contamination.

Further research by Thornhill and Fincher has complemented the studies on the pivotal role of Purity in developing a germ-related hypothesis that links pathogenic threats to “…the psychological dimension of xenophobia, ethnocentrism, traditionalism and authoritarianism.”

They suggest that individualism — which is strongly associated with liberalism — democracy, anti-authoritarianism, women’s rights and freedom are more common in nations with relatively low health-related hazard levels.

Figure 1. Patterns of voting in the first round of last years French election showed support for Le Pen’s right-wing Rally Party was largely rural, and found in the East & the ‘rust belt’ of the North, whilst support for Macron & his Renaissance party was more prevalent in the larger urban conurbations of the West.

In large countries, such as continent wide nations like the U.S., ready access to health care may be a corollary for this, and could help explain the rural-urban political divide that besets not just the U.S. but was similarly predictive during the first round of last years French election where Marine Le Pen’s support was largely rural, and Macron’s largely urban in the first electoral round (Figure 1. above).

That said, I should note that the French are notoriously tactical voters, and patterns during round two did not show such a marked distribution, and may have been indicative of concerns over Le Pen’s extremist views rather than Macron’s political attractiveness!

And this follows Thornhill and Fincher’s hypothesis who suggest that collectivists — or more commonly, conservatives — are more apprehensive of the borders between in- and out-groups, whereas individualists make less distinction between groups and are more likely to trust and build relationships, and, as we have seen, may come from areas/regions with low levels of health-related hazards.

It has been shown therefore that two major worries about concerns over ever-growing immigration may be put into one of two broad categories; fears over cultural integration, and concern over increased competition for economic resources.

But it’s possible there may be a third driver; an unconscious reaction to do with disease avoidance.

“That over human evolutionary history pathogens and infections have constituted a central threat to our species. In addition to the physiological immune system, which fights infections once they have entered the body, our species has therefore evolved psychological motivations to help us avoid coming into contact with infections in the first place. These psychological mechanisms are typically referred to as the so-called behavioral immune system,” Lene Aaroe explains.

Operating at the unconscious level this behavioural reaction and resultant avoidance, often shown as disgust for those of different cultures, may be an evolutionary reaction to the potential for infection (6), making it pertinent that individualists are more open perhaps because they live in areas with a lower risk of disease.

In animals the Hamilton and Zuk hypothesis (1982)(7) and the Zahavi Handicap hypothesis (1975)(8) have suggested that the presence of extravagant adornments can be reliable, or honest indicators of an individuals overall health by showcasing their vitality and resistance to disease and parasites. These adornments are honest because they are costly to produce (i.e. they take a lot of energy) and potentially costly to carry (in terms of an increased risk of predation, for example).

It is suggested that in some birds and vertebrates (not all species with physical traits thought to be sexually selected adornments have been tested) the quality and ‘brightness’ of excessive or secondary sexual adornments — think the male peacocks tail, or the elaborate, gaudy plumage of many male birds of paradise — is a reliable guide for breeding females looking for a mate, meaning that in these species there must be some mechanism for the unconscious detection of disease/parasitic load.

As far as I know these theories have not been tested on any primate species so to draw any conclusions or inferences for the evolution of our own behaviour is not possible. That said it is known that in some female primates the colour and size of ‘sexual swellings’ can be adversely affected by ill-health and therefore reduce their attractiveness but there is no known indication (that I know of) that this is linked to parasitic load or disease (9).

Whilst Zahavi’s work has come under continual scrutiny — a valid application of the scientific method, of which more next post — and has been questioned, even dismissed recently (2019) (10), a discussion of the various merits of these evolutionary theories is beyond the scope of this post, and are not relevant to the point I am making which is, I would suggest, that it is not unreasonable to assume that unconscious detection of disease risk may have evolved in us. It may have taken an analogous pathway to that suggested by Hamilton, Zuk and Zahavi in animals, even though the reasons it evolved may be very different.

But if that is so, are we in danger of giving racists a scientific excuse for their behaviour, in that it would be easy to shun or behave badly to someone who it is believed posed a risk to one’s health? After all, science has been used at various points in our recent history to justify many abhorrent policies — indeed I have discussed some of these in previous posts here — and if this is so, then we have entered what Thomas Edsall callsa new moral universe.”

The difficulty I would have accepting this as any sort of truth is that, if such an ‘ability’ — if that’s what one might reasonably call this — had evolved in humans then surely it wouldn’t have evolved to work along racial lines. Common sense would dictate that such a valuable sense would work regardless of race; after all it’s not only those of another race who carry disease.

Plainly, there is much more to be said on this, but the socio-political danger inherent in such conclusions is readily apparent and could provide adequate ammunition for some to push their own racial agendas, perhaps as an immoral, moral imperative.

It seems that extreme behavioural reactions to marginalised groups, such as refugees or immigrants, “could be understood as morally motivated behaviors grounded in people’s moral values and perceptions of moral violations,” and these extreme reactions include something normally considered as wholly immoral; that of violence.

Edsall details a recent study that shows, outside of war, violence and violent practices, throughout history and across cultures, are largely not perceived as immoral acts, but are usually committed when perpetrators feel morally vindicated, even obligated to undertake the violent actions that might fall under a different moral foundation; that of fairness/reciprocity, where violations of what might be perceived as justice/injustice and violations of this principle, might provoke strong, even violent reactions.

And if different groups or teams interact there is always the potential for a grievance or disagreement to develop, and when that happens the group who perceives they have been wronged is in moral territory.

Populist politicians are adept at exploiting these grievances for political gain (11) and in so doing justify otherwise ‘immoral acts’ as ‘morally justified.’ Thus, Trump was able to lie, cheat, cry foul, incite violence and attempt bribery to right what his supporters perceived as legitimate wrongs.

As I mentioned above, as well as in my post ‘Republican’s traditionalist revival …, Part One,’ the January 6th insurrection that I saw as the anti-democratic, unpatriotic actions of the protesters was, from their perspective, perhaps perfectly and morally justified as rectifying a perceived wrong as posited by Trump.

So hostility to immigration and immigrants may be a product of one’s worldview. Collectivists tend to be more closed and adopt a more right-wing, conservative view of the world, whereas individualists tend to be more open and subscribe to a more left-wing, liberal view. Translated politically, in the U.S. closed people are more likely to be Republicans, and more open people, Democrats.

In my last post (Part Three of this series) I passed on my anecdotal observation that Londoners welcome the huge diversity of its city’s culture, if for no other reason that the variety of restaurants and food types available. And this observation follows the centre-left, largely liberal views that most Londoners (electorally) hold.

For people with a more closed worldview, London’s rich ethnic mix, the exposure to such a mix of different foods, cultures, languages and experiences could be a daunting, stressful prospect. But as I said, my experience of London life was of a people who saw excitement, and the possibility for new experiences in the mix of cultures, rather than viewing it as a negative or worrisome experience.

You might say open minds leads to more open borders and greater acceptance of immigrants and immigration, whereas more closed minds leads to closed borders and far lower rates of immigration and integration (12).

I shall say more about Britain’s cultural diversity in my next post…

As a species we tend to organise ourselves through a process of ‘dispositional sorting’, which is to say we mix with like-minded people, so it might be my view of London is merely a reflection of the group or team of which I was a part, and is not a full reflection of everyone’s experiences. So I could be wrong…

Tell me otherwise please…

Vladimir Putin raising a glass of champagne.
Hero or villain? It maybe depends on what side of the political divide you are! Vladimir Putin, raising a glass to all the consternation, strife and angst he causes us all with his constant lies, and persistent war-mongering.

“The goal of the Centre for Conservative Studies is to become the centre of development of conservative ideology in Russia…We also need to train a conservative minded academic and government elite, there is no reason to hide this fact. They must be conservative ideologues. And we must place people in power and in positions of authority in the academy.”

Alexander Dugin, speaking at the opening of the Centre of Conservative Studies at Moscow State University in 2008.

The wider perspective…

It is in our different worldviews that we find the roots of much of the political strife and division that besets and plagues our 21st Century world, especially in the West.

In the developed world rapidly changing demographics — aging populations with diminishing numbers of young working age people, combined with low fertility and declining birth rates make the chances of maintaining GDP’s in the future within the economically accepted 2% growth, far harder to achieve than they once were.

The infinitely expanding economy is brushing up against demographic reality. As immigration further waters down traditional cultural majorities, the long standing ethnic majorities see their advantages declining thereby creating political tensions and resentment against those seen as responsible for their putative ‘replacement.’

In the developing world by contrast, where fertility rates remain high and, following a trend seen in the developed world, mortality rates are declining, there is increased competition not just for space/land, which remains constant, but also for increasingly stretched financial resources. The problems are exacerbated by the growing risk of climate change, leading to the likelihood that the population pot in the global South may ‘boil over.’

As these two extreme views: between rich and poor nations, between rich and poor people, between regions of low and regions of high fertility, between Northern and Southern hemispheres, the political and demographic challenges are set to grow exponentially with all the violence and negative connotations those tensions might bring.

There will always be bad actors, like Russia, who will seek to exploit these differences, to deepen the divisions and use our natural proclivities against us, to destabilise democracies and make us a less free, less just society, in an attempt to harmonise the nations and make us all into totalitarian monstrosities like them.

We can give in, or we can fight back by finding the truth in arguments; by educating ourselves and not bowing to ignorance, suspicion and conspiracy. It doesn’t mean our differences will magically disappear, because they won’t. But if we can agree on a common course of action that benefits all people, all nations, and move us forward using accepted facts as a baseline for agreement and debate, then the world can possibly avoid the demographic calamity that at the moment seems to be almost unavoidable.

In the next post in this series I look at the reasons why people migrate, where they might go to, and potential solutions to the problems of over and illegal migration.

Thanks for reading.

* Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale measures the degree to which people defer to established authorities, show aggression toward out-groups when authorities sanction that aggression, and support traditional values endorsed by authorities.

** Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is a measure of an individual’s support for group-based hierarchies. It reflects a person’s attitudes toward hierarchies in general, as well as beliefs about whether one’s own group should dominate other groups.

  1. Tracing the threads: How five moral concerns (especially Purity) help explain culture war attitudes; Spassena P. Koleva, Jesse Graham, Ravi Iyer, Peter H. Ditto, Jonathan Haidt. Journal of Research in Personality (2012), doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2012.01.006
  2. How Fascism Works: The politics of Us and Them; Jason Stanley, 2018.
  3. Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition; John T. Jost, Jack Glaser, Arie W. Kruglanski, Frank J. Sulloway. Psychological Bulletin (2003), Vol. 129, no.3., doi: 10.1037/0033–2909.129.3.339
  4. The Histories; Herodotus, translated by Aubrey de Selincourt for Penguin Classics.
  5. The Future is History: How totalitarianism reclaimed Russia; Masha Gessen, 2017.
  6. The Behavioral Immune System Shapes Political Intuitions: Why and How Individual Differences in Disgust Sensitivity Underlie Opposition to Immigration; Lene Aaroe, Michael Bang Petersen, Kevin Arceneaux, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 111, no.2 (May, 2017) pp.277–294.
  7. Heritable true fitness and bright birds: a role for parasites? W.D. Hamilton & M. Zuk, Science, (1982) 218, 384–387.
  8. Mate selection — a selection for handicap. A Zahavi, J. Theor. Biol.,(1975) 53, 205–214.
  9. Primate Sexuality: Comparative studies of prosimians, monkeys, apes and human beings; Alan F. Dixson, 1998.
  10. The Handicap Principle: how an erroneous hypothesis became a scientific principle; Justin J. Penn & Szabolcs Szamado. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 95(1) (October, 2019), doi:10.1111/brv.12563
  11. Populism and the Social Psychology of Grievance. Peter H. Ditto & Cristian G. Rodriguez, 2021. (pdf download)
  12. Open Minds, Open Borders: Individual differences in the relationship between immigration and psychological well-being; Peter Howley, Muhammad Waqas, Neel Ocean. 2020. (pdf download)
  13. The Last Best Hope podcast; speaking to Lauren Haumesser & Mark Power Smith, May 19th, 2023.
An A.I. generated version of Floral Decay in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, Teis Albers (Dutch, born in 1982)
An A.I. generated version of Floral Decay in the colours of the Ukrainian flag; Teis Albers. #solidaritywithUkraine



Peter Winn-Brown

The past can illuminate the present if we shine the light of inquiry openly, truthfully, with attention to detail & care for the salient facts.