Monday, August 27, 2012
Genes and voting
New evidence suggests that a handful of genes may be influencing election outcomes more than we think. Genetic studies show that nature plays a significant role when it comes to political traits. New gene studies indicate that people may have natural tendencies when it comes to political ideology and partisanship, voting behavior and engaging in political violence. Studies that looked at twins suggest how genetics comes into play. Comparisons between identical and fraternal twins found that once teenagers left home, only identical twins maintained similar viewpoints, while fraternal twins were more likely to hold divergent views. This suggests that genetics plays a major role in shaping political ideology and partisanship. Because the human genome is very complex, political traits are likely influenced by thousands of genetic markers. In other words, there is no specific gene tied to a specific political opinion. It may be that certain genetic propensities may influence our emotions, which, in turn, influence political beliefs. For example, a tendency for high pathogen avoidance and phobias may manifest itself as xenophobia and ethnocentrism. In particular, researchers have found specific genes that seem significant. Genes that have to do with dopamine and serotonin - two chemicals in the brain known to influence emotion - appear to have an effect on socialization, voter turnout and political participation. For example, researchers have already identified a gene on a dopamine receptor that causes people to have a large number of friends. Interestingly, these people tend to be more liberal.