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Description: Decades of research suggest that our political differences are best captured by two dimensions of political ideology. The dual evolutionary framework of political ideology predicts that these dimensions should be related to variation in two evolved social preferences inherent to human group living: cooperation and group conformity. Here, we combine data from a nationally representative New Zealand survey and a suite of incentivised behavioural tasks to test whether cooperative and conformist preferences covary with a pair of widely used measures of the two dimensions of political ideology — Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) — and a host of related policy views. As predicted by the dual evolutionary framework, we find that cooperative behaviour covaries with lower SDO and economically progressive views on political issues like income redistribution, welfare, and taxation, while conformist behaviour in the form of social information use covaries with higher RWA and socially conservative views on political issues like abortion, homosexuality, and religious instruction in schools. However, we did not find the predicted relationships between punitive and rule following behaviours and RWA or other socially conservative views, raising questions about the interpretation of punishment and rule following tasks and the nature of authoritarian conformist preferences. These findings reveal how cooperative and conformist preferences that evolved to help us navigate social challenges in our ancestral past continue to track our political differences even today.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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