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Unformatted text preview: Article: “Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?” Author: John Alford, Carolyn Funk, and John R. Hibbing Issue: May. 2005 Journal : American Political Science Association This journal is published by the American Political Science Association. All rights reserved. APSA is posting this article for public view on its website. APSA journals are fully accessible to APSA members and institutional subscribers. To view the table of contents or abstracts from this or any of APSA’s journals, please go to the website of our publisher Cambridge University Press ( http://journals.cambridge.org ). This article may only be used for personal, non-commercial, or limited classroom use. For permissions for all other uses of this article should be directed to Cambridge University Press at [email protected] . American Political Science Review Vol. 99, No. 2 May 2005 Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted? JOHN R. ALFORD Rice University CAROLYN L. FUNK Virginia Commonwealth University JOHN R. HIBBING University of Nebraska W e test the possibility that political attitudes and behaviors are the result of both environ- mental and genetic factors. Employing standard methodological approaches in behavioral genetics—–specifically, comparisons of the differential correlations of the attitudes of monozy- gotic twins and dizygotic twins—–we analyze data drawn from a large sample of twins in the United States, supplemented with findings from twins in Australia. The results indicate that genetics plays an important role in shaping political attitudes and ideologies but a more modest role in forming party identification; as such, they call for finer distinctions in theorizing about the sources of political attitudes. We conclude by urging political scientists to incorporate genetic influences, specifically interactions between genetic heritability and social environment, into models of political attitude formation. W hy do people think and act politically in the manner they do? Despite the foundational nature of this question, answers are unfortu- nately incomplete and unnecessarily tentative, largely because political scientists do not take seriously the possibility of nonenvironmental influences. The sug- gestion that people could be born with political pre- dispositions strikes many as far-fetched, odd, even perverse. However, researchers in other disciplines—– notably behavioral genetics—–have uncovered a sub- stantial heritable component for many social attitudes and behaviors and it seems unlikely that political atti- tudes and behaviors are completely immune from such forces. In this article, we combine relevant findings in behavioral genetics with our own analysis of data on a large sample of twins to test the hypothesis that, con- trary to the assumptions embedded in political science research, political attitudes have genetic as well as en- vironmental causes....
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