Two award-winning political scientists provide the psychological key to America’s deadlocked politics, showing that we are divided not by ideologies but something deeper: personality differences that appear in everything from politics to parenting to the workplace to TV preferences, and which would be innocuous if only we could decouple them from our noxious political debate.
What’s in your garage: a Prius or a pickup? What’s in your coffee cup: Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What about your pet: cat or dog? As award-winning political scholars Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler explain, even our smallest choices speak volumes about us—especially when it comes to our personalities and our politics. Liberals and conservatives seem to occupy different worlds because we have fundamentally different worldviews: systems of values that can be quickly diagnosed with a handful of simple parenting questions, but which shape our lives and decisions in the most elemental ways. If we're to overcome our seemingly intractable differences, Hetherington and Weiler show, we must first learn to master the psychological impulses that give rise to them, and to understand how politicians manipulate our mindsets for their own benefit.
Drawing on groundbreaking original research, Prius or Pickup? is an incisive, illuminating study of the fracturing of the American mind.
About the Author
Marc Hetherington is the Raymond Dawson Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of three previous books, including Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics (co-authored with Jonathan Weiler) and Why Washington Won’t Work: Polarization, Political Trust, and the Governing Crisis (with Thomas J. Rudolph), which won the Alexander George Award from the International Society of Political Psychology. Also winner of the Emerging Scholar Award from the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior section of the American Political Science Association, he and his work have been widely cited in mainstream media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Jonathan Weiler is Director of Undergraduate Studies and a professor in Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received his Ph.D. in political science. In addition to Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics (co-authored with Marc Hetherington), he is the author of Human Rights in Russia: A Darker Side of Reform. He has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since 2009 and has appeared many times on radio and television to provide analysis of American Politics and other subjects. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“A fascinating way to look at the fracturing of a nation presumed to be united… [Prius or Pickup?] speaks volumes about how we divide along many fronts, not least of them political.”
“An exceptionally insightful and entertaining exploration of the roots of tribalism in American (and European) society and politics, and its ominous consequences for democracy. Prius or Pickup? deserves a wide readership.”
—Thomas E. Mann, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
“Hetherington and Weiler hit the sweet spot in writing political science for a broad audience. Their book is authoritative, terrifically engaging, and profoundly important.”
—Larry Bartels, May Werthan Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science, Vanderbilt University
“Hetherington and Weiler's use of four simple questions to explain Americans' relationship to politics and each other triggered a fundamental shift in my understanding of U.S. politics. Now they have transformed those ideas into an interesting, readable book. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to figure out what's really behind these turbulent political times.”
—Amanda Taub, Columnist, New York Times
“Hetherington and Weiler’s terrific book reveals how our political thinking is based on worldviews—outlooks which can be quickly and easily ascertained by responses to a few non-political questions. By understanding this phenomenon, hopefully we can someday alleviate the polarization that currently plagues our politics. The fate of our democracy probably depends on our doing so!”
—John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel and New York Times best-selling author of Conservatives Without Conscience
“Today’s Republican voters are very afraid of what they see as a dangerous world, reveals Prius or Pickup? But who, exactly, has sought to intensify their anxiety—and to achieve what? This is the troubling question that will stay with readers of Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler’s book, whose sequel could be titled, Cui Bono? For as the authors point out, scared people are more willing to approve violations of democratic ideals. Who, then, does such fear help?”
—Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America