Is political orientation transmitted genetically?

Feb 06, 2008

As reported in this week's issue of New Scientist magazine, research by Rice University professor of political science John Alford indicates that what is on one's mind about politics may be influenced by how people are wired genetically.

Alford, who has researched this topic for a number of years, and his team analyzed data from political opinions of more than 12,000 twins in the United States and supplemented it with findings from twins in Australia. Alford found that identical twins were more likely to agree on political issues than were fraternal twins. On the issue of property taxes, for example, an astounding four-fifths of identical twins shared the same opinion, while only two-thirds of fraternal twins agreed.

"What we found was that it probably is going to take more than a persuasive television ad to change someone's mind on a certain political position or attitude," said Alford. "Individual genes for behaviors do not exist and no one denies that humans have the capacity to act against genetic predispositions. But predictably dissimilar correlations of social and political attitudes among people with greater and lesser shared genotypes suggest that behaviors are often shaped by forces of which the person themselves are not consciously aware."

Alford believes that political scientists are too quick to dismiss genetics; rather, he believes genetics should be studied and taught along with social-environment influences.

"It has been proven that genetics plays a role in a myriad of different human interaction and makeup," said Alford. "Why should we exclude political beliefs and attitudes?"

Source: Rice University

Explore further: New research says Anne Frank likely died a month earlier

Related Stories

Political-Genetic Theory Is Studied

Nov 02, 2006

(AP) -- Politics may not be in the blood, but it could be in the genes. That's the theory a team of political scientists and geneticists is trying to prove with extensive studies of twins, genes and brain scans.

Recommended for you

Using Twitter to probe political polarization

3 hours ago

We'd like to believe that our opinions are nuanced, balanced, high-minded, wise and above all, unique, but alas they are not—or so says Twitter. Most often, those we engage with on the popular social media ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.