John Hibbing

John Hibbing

Foundation Regents University Professor

At A Glance

532 Oldfather Hall


Deep individual differences exist across humans and I study the manner in which these biological variations mitigate the way in which individuals respond to politically relevant environmental occurrences.

I am most proud of being in the Dana College Athletic Hall of Fame, having an article in Science, co-authoring with my son Matthew, collaborating with graduate students, and creating a course for undergraduates entitled "Genes, Behavior, and Politics."

In my spare time I like to travel and read fiction, but mostly I work and play, especially fish, at our place in the country.

Research Areas

  • Political Psychology
  • Biology and Politics
  • Political Behavior
  • Public Opinion
  • Legislative Politics

Current Research

Working primarily with Kevin B. Smith of UNL and John Alford of Rice University, Hibbing's current research interests center on the relationship of biological characteristics to political orientations and behavior.

These characteristics could be innate, acquired in early development, and/or shaped by more proximal experiences but the fact at some point that they appear to become physiological instantiated has important implications for the manner in which political life is conceptualized and studied.

Accordingly, research in progress or recently completed focuses on the effects of cortisol levels on voter turnout, Androstenone detection on political attitudes, and electrodermal activity on both political attitudes and behaviors.

Their research team also is applying various paradigms drawn from cognitive psychology including the flanker task, frustration task, gaze cuing, several economic games, and emotion discrimination exercises and using measurement techniques such as eyetracking, brain imaging (both EEG and fMRI), classic twin studies, endocrinology, cross-national physiology, and allelic association analyses.


  • Velux Senior Research Fellow, University of Southern Denmark (2011)
  • Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, Sage Center for the Study of the Mind, UC-Santa Barbara (2010)
  • Fenno Prize for Best Book on Legislative Politics (with Elizabeth Theiss-Morse)
  • 9 National Science Foundation Grants


  • "The Political Left Rolls with the Good; The Political Right Confronts the Bad," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences (2012), co-author
  • "The Politics of Mate Choice," Journal of Politics (2011)
  • "Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits," Science (2008), co-author
  • "Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?" American Political Science Review (2005), co-author
  • Stealth Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2002), co-author

Career Highlights

  • The joys of doing interdisciplinary research
  • Seeing the discipline of political science slowly becoming more open to biologically informed techniques
  • Working with graduate and undergraduate students