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Keywords:

  • political neuroscience;
  • racial prejudice;
  • partisanship;
  • ideology

The emergence of political neuroscience—an interdisciplinary venture involving political science, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience—has piqued the interests of scholars as well as the mass public. In this chapter, we review evidence pertaining to four areas of inquiry that have generated most of the research in political neuroscience to date: (1) racial prejudice and intergroup relations; (2) the existence of partisan bias and motivated political cognition; (3) the nature of left-right differences in political orientation; and (4) the dimensional structure of political attitudes. Although these topics are well-known to political psychologists, the application of models and methods from neuroscience has renewed interest in each of them and yielded novel insights. There is reason to believe that many other areas of political psychology await similarly promising renewals and that innovative methods will continue to advance our understanding of the physiological processes involved in political cognition, evaluation, judgment, and behavior. We address limitations, criticisms, and potential pitfalls of existing work—including the “chicken-and-egg problem”—and propose an ambitious agenda for the next generation of research in political neuroscience.