Transcript for Amy Chua talks tribalism and bridging the divide in America today
Yale law professor Amy Chua became a pop culture phenomenon with her controversial best selling manifesto "Battle hymn of the tiger mother." Now she's set her sights on liberals and conservatives in her latest book, "Political tribes: Group instinct and the fate of nations." Please welcome Amy Chua. Joy and I both saw you on bill Maher and wanted you to come on. I'm surprised. If you can get both of us interested in it. Your book is fascinating and you say all humans are hard wired to be tribal. Can you explain what that means to us specifically with American politics? Great, so we are, as a species, we're biologically constructed to want to belong to tribes. We have to belong to groups. And once we connect to a group, it's almost like the effect is almost like a drug. That is we want to cling to the group. We want to make it better in every day and defend it no matter what. And that's not always bad. A group can be our family. I've seen the way you are with your family. I'm the same way, very tribal sports. The problem is when tribalism takes over a political system, that becomes very dangerous because you start to see everything through your group's lens and you don't even realize it. You're just stuck in there and facts start to not matter, arguments. Even today watching you guys, like people don't realize are we being consistent? Are we just mad about it when our side did it two years ago, you know. It gets -- the pblem is that we have massive problems, race, immigration, gun control, and we are getting nothing done. Any time anything happens, we immediately go into our tribal positions and we start attacking the other side. The studies show that we actually -- our brains go off. With we get pleasure from taking down the other side. Are we really trying to help America solve these problems or do we just want to stick it to the other side and see them suffer. I think that's part of the problem we're seeing right now. That's interesting. Possibly true, I'm not sure if I agree. Um, so you identify as socially liberal, correct? I actually am an independent. I'm way to the left on some things, way to the right on other things. I've always been on outsider. You're pro choice I take it? Yeah. Pro gay marriage? Yeah. So that's socially liberal. Yeah. But I was raised catholic. We all were. I wasn't. So Amy, the other thing that's fascinating about you is you actually thought that trump would win, unlike the rest of us who were in denial, like me. Yeah. I got that right. It's interesting, I teach on one of the most liberal campuses, Yale law school. I love my students, really the most liberal campus. And out of the 600 students, only one identified openly as a trump supporter. Right there I knew something was wrong because nobody could talk. From talking to people privately behind closed doors, it wasn't just that people -- You think they were kidding, lying, what? No. Many of them -- even if they weren't themselves voting for trump, it was their parents, grandparents, their friends, cousins. When you hear those ignorant, racist, stupid -- it didn't sit right. Forget the staff, many, many. And more interestingly than that, it's not just white. America is a complicated place. I write about in this book, I have an undocumented mexico mexican-american whose mother voted for trump because of the prosperity gospel and religion. I could see that we just don't understand the rest of America very well. No. We keep trying to understand them though I think. We're trying. We're trying and I read your book and I hope people will read it because it really is so fascinating, all the dynamics. But we are trying to understand the trump voter, and you spent some time explaining identity politics, but I thought you missed the mark and I told you this at the break because when you're talking about white trump supporters, you say things like perception that whites are currently treated unfairly relative to minority appeared to be an unusually strong predictor of support for Donald Trump in the general election. But then again, if you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy, it's mostly white, so why are whites, poor whites, why did they vote for a billionaire in New York in droves and blame really black people and people of color for their problems? I actually agree with you. I actually agree with you, but my book is just different. I feel like there are people on both sides saying -- fighting already. My book is really about how did we get to this place where I think all America, a lot of Americans hate where we are. There's so much acrimony. It's almost at the point where we see people who voted for the other side not just as people we want to fight with or like you guys sometimes fight but literally as our enemy, immoral people. When you start to see half the country that way -- by the way, for me the book is more like how can we overcome some of this and maybe get to the vision you want, you know. By the way, you're right, perception -- I'm sorry, go ahead. What I'm trying -- I am seminew on this show and I think my mission is to try and explain Republicans, red state America to not just the show but to the rest of the country as well, and I think you really nailed it when you're talking about how tribal we are because I even find myself, like when Hillary Clinton just last week called voters backwards, I could have only voted for trump because my husband told me to, I was like, screw all Democrats who think this about me, you have no understanding of why trump won. It makes me feel tribal over my people, over my red states. I thk that's what you're trying to explain in the book and I find myself, as rational as I think I am, trying not to act like that. I have that too. We're all -- it's just instinctive. And you know, on that one, I just, again, try to step back from either side. I think as soon as you find yourself talking about huge numbers of people, you know, yes, maybe you just hate this one leader, there's horribleness and there are awful groups and we have to root those things out but once you start talking about an entire town or entire state or an entire swath of a country and using big adjectives like ignorant, bigoted, fascist, I've studied -- my field is ethnic conscious and prejudice. That's the definition of a stereotype. You don't know them, you've never met them. But you know what, Hillary Clinton, to take her side for a second. I think she does not mean everybody when she speaks, but you have to admit that there are pockets on the right that are racist -- Completely. And as she calls deplorable. That's what she's talking about. This book is fascinating. I loved it. I think you're a fascinating person. I'm so glad you came here. Our thanks to Amy Chua. "Political tribes" is available now. Please go buy it.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.