More Blog Reactions to Genetics and Politicson November 4, 2006 at 12:00 am
The research is freely available
“We test the possibility that political attitudes and behaviors are the result of both environmental and genetic factors. Employing standard methodological approaches in behavioral genetics—–specifically, comparisons of the differential correlations of the attitudes of monozygotic 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.”
And has been blogged before
But netizens are still discussing the recent reportings on the Nebraska Lecture on genetics, behavior, and politics.
What’s new today: Free Republic is all over the place (from amazingly good to amazingly bad), InstructorScribe notes that while genetics probably isn’t the end-all it does play a role. Rational Fool confuses genetic influence with genetic determinism. Rusted Sky notes that “Well – if true that’d open up a whole can of worms..” Technocrat makes a good point about partisanship and orientation.
One particular Free Republic comment, by “Question_Assumptions,” struck me:
I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence. I think Thomas Sowell puts his finger on it in his book A Conflict of Visions. It has to do with how people view fairness and human nature. If you think an equal playing field but unequal results are fair, you’ll be a conservative. If you think that an equal playing field is unfair if it yields unequal results, you’ll be a liberal. Conservatives are interested in equality of process. Liberals are interested in equality of results. See Thomas Sowell’s book The Quest for Cosmic Justice for a good analysis of why attempts to ensure equality of results lead to disaster.
Fortunately, this question is empirically testable. Using the ultimatum game, one should be able to proceduralize conceptions of fairness concerns and see if they correlate with attitudes. I do not know if this has been done. It’s a fascinating factual question.
Further, one of the lead researchers in genetic factors earlier made a name for himself looking at something similar: the preference of Americans for procedural justice over democratic norms. Fairness is a basic drive and it influences how we think politically. “Question_Assumptions” is asking the questions. Maybe soon we’ll know the answers.