How pandemics affect our political brain


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This week our host Rafael Behr is in conversation with Dr Leor Zmigrod about how cognitive science can help us understand how political identities are formed, and how people's ideological affiliations might affect how they respond to a national crisis.

If you want to delve further into the topic

Reader-friendly essays

Zmigrod, L. (2019). The partisan brain: cognitive study suggests people on the left and right are more similar than they think.

Zmigrod, L. (2018). Brexit: how cognitive psychology helps us make sense of the vote.

Relevant academic papers

Zmigrod, L. (2020). The Role of Cognitive Rigidity in Political Ideologies: Theory, Evidence, and Future Directions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 34, 34-39.

See paper here.

Zmigrod, L., Ebert, T., Götz, F. M., & Rentfrow, J. (2020). The Psychological and Socio-political Consequences of Infectious Diseases. Retrieved from

Tybur, J. M., Inbar, Y., Aarøe, L., Barclay, P., Barlow, F. K., De Barra, M., ... & Consedine, N. S. (2016). Parasite stress and pathogen avoidance relate to distinct dimensions of political ideology across 30 nations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(44), 12408-12413

Murray, D. R., Schaller, M., & Suedfeld, P. (2013). Pathogens and politics: Further evidence that parasite prevalence predicts authoritarianism. PloS One, 8(5).

Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., & Updegraff, J. A. (2016). Fear of Ebola: The influence of collectivism on xenophobic threat responses. Psychological Science, 27(7), 935-944.

23 episodes