Leor Zmigrod is a Research Fellow at Churchill College and the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. She was recently listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Science & Healthcare category, and awarded the ESCAN 2020 Young Investigator Award by the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. She was also awarded the Glushko Dissertation Prize in Cognitive Science by the Cognitive Science Society. Leor Zmigrod is an Editor for an upcoming Theme Issue in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, titled “The Political Brain: Neurocognitive and Computational Mechanisms Underlying Ideological Behaviour”. She has previously held visiting research positions at Stanford and Harvard.
Leor Zmigrod holds the Gretty Mirdal Junior Chair in ’Brain, Culture and Society’, which aims to support young researchers working at the interface between neuroscience and SHS.
The psychology of ideologies; political neuroscience; the cognitive underpinnings of politics, nationalism, religion, and dogmatism; the psycho-political origins of ideological extremism.
The Neurocognitive Underpinnings of Ideological Dogmatism
Since the birth of modern civilization, humans have been creating stories that capture their theories about how the world works and how they should act within this complex world. These narratives both describe and prescribe human action, and exist in a kaleidoscope of forms – from religious doctrines to political manifestos, and from racial supremacy to authoritarian nationalism. Why are we – as societies and individuals – seduced by these explosive ideologies? Recent research findings demonstrate that our ideologies may be tightly interconnected with our perceptual and cognitive architecture. While past endeavours have concentrated on the role of motivations, this research program focuses on the fundamental cognitive mechanisms of thought and their neurobiological underpinnings. It therefore considers questions such as: How do ideological doctrines captivate the human brain? Which cognitive, neural, and genetic traits confer susceptibility (or resistance) to ideological thinking? Through interdisciplinary experimental designs that harness cutting-edge methodologies in cognitive science, neuroscience, and behavioural genetics, and construct dialogue with the social sciences, the research aims to unpack the behavioural and neurobiological roots of ideological behaviour. At its heart, it seeks to illustrate that a rigorous biologically-grounded scientific study of the ideological mind may illuminate ancient paradoxes as well as pertinent societal questions facing modern democracies.