Fowler - partisanship_voting_and_drd2

Fowler - partisanship_voting_and_drd2 - Partisanship Voting...

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Partisanship, Voting, and the Dopamine D2 Receptor Gene Christopher T. Dawes and James H. Fowler University of California, San Diego * January 31, 2008 Abstract Previous studies have found that both political orientations (Alford, Funk & Hibbing 2005) and voting behavior (Fowler, Baker & Dawes 2007, Fowler & Dawes 2007) are significantly heritable. In this article we study genetic variation in another important political behavior: partisan attachment. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene are significantly less likely to identify as a partisan than those with the A2 allele. Further, we find that this gene’s association with partisanship also mediates an indirect association between the A1 allele and voter abstention. These results are the first to identify a specific gene that may be responsible for the tendency to join political groups, and they may help to explain correlation in parent and child partisanship and the persistence of partisan behavior over time. * This research was funded by National Science Foundation grant number SES-0719404. The most recent version of this paper can be found at The contact author can be reached at [email protected]
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Introduction The early work of the Michigan School, most notably the The American Voter , argued that party identification is an affective attachment that is the product of socialization (Campbell, Converse, Miller & Stokes 1960). Party identification is generally weak or nonexistent until individuals reach their formative years, at which point their partisanship ties strengthen as a result of becoming active members of their communities and forming close associations with social groups, some of which have ties to political parties (Campbell et al. 1960). Later scholarship, building on this social psychology view, emphasizes the notion of party identification as a social attachment, arguing that the identification with a particular party is primarily based on an image of that party as a social group (Gerber & Green 1998, Green, Palmquist & Schickler 2002). In contrast to the social psychology theory of partisanship, instrumental theories characterize partisan attachment as an information shortcut that is continually updated and adjusted based on rational evaluation (Fiorina 1981, Popkin 1991). For example, Achen (1992) argues that voters act as Bayesian updaters, prospectively judging parties based on their observations of the party’s past performance and information received from a campaign. Voters receive “noisy” signals about party performance, and this noise originates at the individual-level and/or system-level of the information environment. If, due to high levels of individual-level noise, voters cannot determine party differences, they may be less likely to form party attachments (Huber, Kernell & Leoni 2005).
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Fowler - partisanship_voting_and_drd2 - Partisanship Voting...

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