Sunday, February 16, 2014

Personality and politics

Posted by Jessica Abbott on behalf of Utku Urhan

Swedish elections are approaching, therefore paper i picked for next week's lab meeting is somewhat related to this event. I assume there is nothing wrong with discussing politics within the context of genetics and evolution.

Kandler et. al's study is a good example of how genes may have control over our decisions and perspective on life. Kandler et. al defines left and right ideology according to attitude towards equality and system change. They analyze genetic and environmental factors and their interactions which may cause attitude differences towards these two key concepts. They also take important factors, such as assortative mating and main personality traits, into account.

Left or Right? Sources of Political Orientation: The Roles of Genetic Factors, Cultural Transmission, Assortative Mating, and Personality Christian Kandler, Wiebke Bleidorn, and Rainer Riemann
In this study, we used an extended twin family design to investigate the influences of genetic and cultural transmission as well as different sources of nonrandom mating on 2 core aspects of political orientation: acceptance of inequality and rejecting system change. In addition, we studied the sources of phenotypic links between Big Five personality traits and political beliefs using self- and other reports. Data of 1,992 individuals (224 monozygotic and 166 dizygotic twin pairs, 92 unmatched twins, 530 spouses of twins, 268 fathers, and 322 mothers) were analyzed. Genetically informative analyses showed that political attitudes are genetically but not environmentally transmitted from parents to offspring and that a substantial proportion of this genetic variance can be accounted for by genetic variance in personality traits. Beyond genetic effects and genotypic assortative mating, generation-specific environmental sources act to increase twins’ and spouses’ resemblance in political beliefs. The results suggest multiple sources of political orientations in a modern democracy.

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