There may be a 'party' in your genes

December 28, 2009

Genetics play a pivotal role in shaping how individual's identify with political parties , according to an article in a recent issue of Political Research Quarterly, the official journal of the Western Political Science Association .

Political party identification (PID) is among the most studied concepts in modern political science. Scholars have long held that PID was the result of socialization factors, including parental socialization. The possibility that partisan identification could be transmitted genetically rather than socially was not considered and largely left untested.

Using quantitative genetic models, the authors of the article "Is There a 'Party' in Your ?' (Peter K. Hatemi, John R. Alford, John R. Hibbing, Nicholas G. Martin, and Lindon J. Eaves) examine the sources of party identification and the intensity of that identification. Together with recent examinations of political attitudes and vote choice, their findings begin to provide a more complete picture of the source of partisanship and the complex nature of the political phenotype.

This article is part of a mini-symposium entitled "The Scientific Analysis of Politics." Top scholars, using evolutionary psychological and biological frameworks, provide fresh approaches to the study of politics and . .

"What are the best approaches and methodologies toward a scientific study of politics?" write guest editors Rose McDermott and Kristen Renwick Monroe. "We do not mean to reactivate a no longer productive debate about nature versus nurture, since it now seems clear that both forces operate in tandem. Rather by encompassing both facets—nature and nurture—into an integrated perspective, we believe it is possible to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of human political behavior."

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Dec 29, 2009
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not rated yet Jan 04, 2010
There's obviously some correlation. For example depression and addiction are both genetically linked and would incline someone to hold certain views. I would expect genetics plays a role in traits such as optimism, openness to change, trust in social institutions, level of paranoia, or xenophobic/tribal binding traits (autistic children have no sense of community for example). And it's likely that some political parties play on these particular cognitive traits more than others either by accident or as a deliberate part of their political platform.

However, I would also expect this is a chaotic connection. It's there, but small changes in initial conditions could obviously result in dramatic and unexpected changes to voting decision. The disconnect could be as simple as the local media's bias or other environmental random variables. Chaotic systems sometimes have emergent properties, but I haven't heard of any way to predict if this particular chaotic system would have them.

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