Research

Tendency to fear is strong political influence

The politics of fear

Researchers at Brown have found that a genetic predisposition to fear correlates with political attitudes about out-groups and issues — immigration, for example. Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

Fear can play a role in influencing political attitudes on hot-button issues like immigration, according to new research co-authored by Brown political scientist Rose McDermott. The study, published in the American Journal of Political Science, shows that individuals who are genetically predisposed to fear tend to have more negative out-group opinions, which play out politically as support for policies like anti-immigration and segregation.