Dr. Helen Fisher on How Brain Chemistry Determines Personality and Politics

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Biological Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher talks neurochemistry, political attitudes, and the libertarian brain.

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If libertarians are bold, impulsive, quick witted, adventurous, analytical, and willing to ignore social norms, is that because we have especially active dopamine and testosterone systems in our brains?

That’s the hypothesis of the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has developed a pioneering framework for classifying human temperaments. She categorizes her subjects by having them take a personality test that’s used by online dating sites Match.com and Chemistry.com to better link potential mates. To date, her questionnaire has been taken by more than 14 million people in 30 countries.

Barack Obama, according to Fisher, is high in dopamine, accounting for his optimism, and also in estrogen, which explains the Oval Office rug covered in inspirational quotes. Mitt Romney is in some ways the opposite of a libertarian, high on the serotonin scale, which accounts for his respect for authority, rigidity, and loyalty.

Fisher is a senior fellow at the Kinsey Institute and she’s the author of six books, most recently Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray. She spoke at the Reason Foundation’s annual donor weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Edited by Ian Keyser. Intro by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein.

“Sphunx” by Sk’p is licensed under CC BY NC ND 3.0

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