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Genetics may have strong influence in political leanings

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Genetics may have strong influence in political leanings

By Celeste Tholen Rosenlof | Posted - Dec. 11, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Genetics, as much as external factors, may influence one’s political ideology, a new study claims.

Using sets of identical and fraternal twins, researchers associated with Pew Research Center looked at the effect genetics have on political leanings. Leading the study at University of Minnesota, psychologist Cary Funk found that more 56 percent of the difference in self-identified political ideology has to do with genetic factors.

Funk used twins because they eliminate many variables of nature versus nurture, since, for the most part, they have been raised in the same home at the same time, were disciplined in the same way and likely heard the same conversations about politics and values.

The study, published in Political Psychology, claims that about half the difference in authoritarian beliefs can be explained by genetics. The remaining percentage is based on factors that affected one twin but not the other.

Political attitudes like ideology scale, egalitarianism and attitudes toward social organization were attributed to be genetic factors at a rate of 50 percent or more each.

Personality traits, like extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness and extreme authoritarianism were also considered.

Study authors noted that the study was not representative of America, as the twins were mostly middle-aged and white. The authors also cautioned that genes do not guarantee an individual will have political leanings one way or another, corresponding with those of their family.

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof

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