Researchers say our genes shape our political views

I have been pointing out evidence to that effect for years  -- since the '80s -- but it is good to see that the evidence keeps coming -- JR

Biology may not be destiny but it does shape who we vote for. A new study has found that our political attitudes are hard-wired into our DNA, with 56 per cent of each belief influenced by our genes.

Individual experiences, upbringing and other social influences explain the remaining variation in our left or right-wing orientation, according to the study.

'We've tended to think of political attitudes and behaviors as being rooted in the environment,' study co-author Dr. Kevin Smith, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told HuffPost Science.

'What our study shows along with a number of other studies is that they seem to be at least partially rooted in our biology.

'I know people get bent out of shape about this. The environment is important, it's just not everything. 'You can talk about biology and you can talk about the environment. Who we are is a combination of both.'

For the study, published in this month's Political Psychology journal, researchers surveyed 682 pairs of middle-aged twins, all recruited from a large database called the Minnesota Twin Registry.

Half of the twins were identical (monozygotic), sharing all of the same genes. The other half were fraternal, sharing about 50 percent of their genes.

The twins were asked about their attitudes to a range of political issues including gay marriage and egalitarianism.

The research found the identical twins' political views were consistently more similar than those of the fraternal twins, with further statistical analysis revealing the differences were due to genetic influences.

The study also revealed about half (48 percent) of the difference in extreme authoritarian beliefs is inherited, while 50 percent of egalitarian views are encoded in our genes.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln co-author Dr. John Hibbing said the research could offer insights into how to ease political tensions.

'Some observers have the idea that if people just talk about politics long enough, everybody will come to agreement,' he told HuffPost Science.

'Our research, as well as that of others in the field, indicates that political differences run deep, are biological, and affect the way the world is perceived and processed.

'It is pleasant to believe our political foes are merely uninformed but often times (not always) they are well-informed but just have different predispositions.'


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