Many people seem to hate politicians. The reason is simple, you may think: “Politicians are egotistical and dishonest.” But a deeper look at our responses to politicians reveals something a bit more complex. The Book I, Mammal: How to Make Peace With Your Animal Urge for Social Power by Loretta G. Breuning explores this human reaction to political figures.

Common enemies common cause

When individuals share a common dislike towards a politician or group, it creates a sense of unity and belonging among them. This is because our mammalian brain instinctively seeks alliances for protection against common enemies and our bonds are strengthened by a shared sense of threat. Although there may be some tension within the group, the shared sense of threat helps to keep them together. Therefore, you tend to feel a positive connection with individuals who share your aversion towards a political figure or party, as it is ingrained in our brain to build social alliances.

Mammalian herds tend to experience a significant amount of tension, but they are still bound together by a common danger. Similarly, your brain is wired to appreciate individuals who share your contempt for Candidate XYZ, owing to the fact that it was formed through the process of natural selection. 

The mammalian brain is evolutionary wired to view separation from the group as a survival threat. Consequently, if you don’t share the widespread abhorrence of Candidate, you may feel compelled to keep your opinions to yourself. By aligning yourself with the correct political figures, your mammalian brain receives a sense of security in numbers, leading to a positive emotional reaction.

Challenging scratches an itch

Mammals often rearrange the hierarchy of their herd, pack, or troop when it is safe to do so, as this promotes their survival.The mammal brain is constantly searching for secure chances to challenge as losing a challenge poses a threat to survival. Criticizing a politician in front of your friends or on your screen is a safe way to do so.

Each brain sifts information to fit its preconceptions.

Sometimes individuals tend to ignore when those who share similar beliefs as them twist facts, even though they may criticize politicians for doing the same. Mirror neurons wire in the experience of the people you observe. So if you grow up hearing people blame their frustrations on politicians, your brain gets wired to do the same.

In conclusion, the book states “Venting feels good, but hating politicians is still hate.

I would possibly reword to venting feels good, but hating politicians feels even better.

The final point in the book is that political anger is a learned habit that we’re better off without. Breuning you to ‘the next time you feel like letting loose on a politician, try shouting “You’re a mammal. And I’m a mammal too.”

I mean this sure sounds like fun but I am not sure how effective it would be in practice.

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