|Some politics may be etched in the genes|
|AaaAa|| Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Some politics may be etched in the genes
But study says party affiliation is linked to environment
By BENEDICT CAREY
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Political scientists have long held that people's
upbringing and experience determine their political views.
A child raised on peace protests and Bush-loathing
generally tracks left as an adult, unless derailed by some
powerful life experience. One reared on tax protests and a
hatred of Kennedys usually lists to the right.
But on the basis of a new study, a team of political
scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to
issues such as the death penalty, taxes and abortion is
strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new
research builds on a series of studies that indicate that
people's general approach to social issues -- more
conservative or more progressive -- is influenced by genes.
Environmental influences such as upbringing, the study
suggests, play a more central role in party affiliation as
a Democrat or Republican, much as they do in a person's
affiliation with a sports team.
The report, which appears in the current issue of the
American Political Science Review, the profession's premier
journal, uses genetics to help answer several open
questions in political science.
They include why some people defect from the party in which
they were raised and why some political campaigns, like the
2004 presidential election, turn into verbal blood sport,
though polls find little disparity in most Americans' views
on specific issues such as gun control and affirmative
The study is the first on genetics to appear in the
journal. "I thought, 'Here's something new and different by
respected political scholars that many political scientists
never saw before in their lives,' " said Lee Sigelman,
editor of the journal and a professor of political science
at George Washington University.
Sigelman said that in many fields the findings "would
create nothing more than a large yawn," but that "in ours,
maybe people will storm the barricades."
Geneticists who study behavior and personality have known
for 30 years that genes play a large role in people's
instinctive emotional responses to certain issues -- their
It is not that opinions on specific issues are written into
a person's DNA. Rather, genes prime people to respond
cautiously or openly to the mores of a social group.
Only recently have researchers begun to examine how these
predispositions, in combination with childhood and later
life experiences, shape political behavior.
In the study, three political scientists -- John Hibbing of
the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, John Alford of Rice
University and Carolyn Funk of Virginia Commonwealth --
combed survey data from two large continuing studies,
including more than 8,000 sets of twins.
From an extensive battery of surveys on personality traits,
religious beliefs and other psychological factors, the
researchers selected 28 questions most relevant to
The researchers then compared dizygotic or fraternal twins,
who, like any biological siblings, share 50 percent of
their genes, with monozygotic, or identical, twins, who
share 100 percent of their genes.
Calculating how often identical twins agree on an issue and
subtracting the rate at which fraternal twins agree on the
same item provides a rough measure of genes' influence on
that attitude. A shared family environment for twins reared
together is assumed.
On school prayer, for example, the identical twins'
opinions correlated at a rate of 0.66, a measure of how
often they agreed. The correlation rate for fraternal twins
was 0.46. This translated into a 41 percent contribution
As found in previous studies, attitudes about issues such
as school prayer, property taxes and the draft were among
the most influenced by inheritance, the researchers found.
Others like modern art and divorce were less so. And in the
twins' overall score, derived from 28 questions, genes
accounted for 53 percent of the differences.
But after correcting for the tendency of politically
like-minded men and women to marry each other, the
researchers also found the twins' self-identification as
Republican or Democrat was far more dependent on
environmental factors such as upbringing and life
experience than was their social orientation, which the
researchers call ideology. Inheritance accounted for 14
percent of the difference in party, the researchers found.
"We are measuring two separate things here, ideology and
party affiliation," Hibbing, the senior author, said.
He added that his research team found the large difference
in heritability between the two "very hard to believe," but
that it held up.
The implications of this difference may be far-reaching,
the authors argue. For years, political scientists tried in
vain to learn how family dynamics such as closeness between
parents and children or the importance of politics in a
household influenced political ideology. But the study
suggests that an inherited social orientation may overwhelm
the more subtle effects of family dynamics.
A mismatch between an inherited social orientation and a
given party may also explain why some people defect from a
party. Many people who are genetically conservative may be
brought up as Democrats, and some who are genetically more
progressive may be raised as Republicans, the researchers
In tracking attitudes over the years, geneticists have
found that social attitudes tend to stabilize in the late
teens and early 20s, when young people begin to fend for
Some "mismatched" people stay loyal to their family's
political party. But circumstances can override inherited
bent. The draft may seem a good idea until your number is
The researchers are not optimistic about the future of
bipartisan cooperation or national unity. Because men and
women tend to seek mates with a similar ideology, they say,
the two gene pools are becoming, if anything, more
concentrated, not less.
|mako||Za mnogu karakteristiki verojatno imame nekakva geneticka predispozicija, kako na primer: stepen na agresivnost, extrovertnost/introvertnost, sovesnost, custvitelnost, stres tolerancija itn. Karakteristiki koi poslem se razvivaat zavisno od okolinata i iskustvata. Nemozhime sosema da se oslobodime od biologijata, no istovremeno sme i duhovni sustestva so odredena sposobnost za transcendentalnost i samoreflekcija. Taka da skepticen sum sprema pozitivistickiot jargon koi ponekogash prevladuvat vo politickata nauka, sega so biologizmot kako najnov hit i ultimatna vistina(?). No i sprema totalniot relativizam koi figurirat vo sociologijata i se e OK ako ima predznak 'postmodernizam' i 'dekonstrukcija' Some food for thought: [url]http://www.beachbrowser.com/Archives/Opinion/POLITICS-OF-BIOLOGY.htm[/url]|