LINCOLN — Genetics might not determine who you vote for, but people might be born predisposed to liberal or conservative views, two University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors say.
Research by John Hibbing and Kevin Smith suggests that genetics predicts political attitudes to some extent, although they say life experience plays a big role in shaping beliefs.
“We think part of what's going on is people literally feel what's right or wrong in their gut,” Smith said. “That raises the question: How can genes influence something as complicated as your ideology?”
Smith said the link between politics and genetics shows up in studies of identical twins and fraternal twins. The identical twins are more likely to share political views later in life, suggesting a genetic connection.
Smith and Hibbing published their findings in the December edition of the journal Political Psychology. The article is based on a 2009 survey of nearly 600 sets of twins in their 50s and 60s.
But prominent genetics researcher Evan Charney remained skeptical. The Duke University professor said studies of twins fail to account for differences in the way different types of twins are treated.
Charney said identical twins are more likely than fraternal twins to be treated alike by their families, to be dressed alike and to spend time together.
Charney also said studies of twins, including this one, tend to oversimplify how genetics works: “I think this is just completely pseudoscience.”
But Hibbing and Smith said that even if they can't identify a specific gene for conservative or liberal views, their latest study suggested a genetic link even when factoring in things like twins' common environment.
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