Crossing the disciplines
June 22nd, 2005 by JTJ

of the missions of the IAJ is to appropriate data and methods of
knowing from other disciplines and bring them to the attention of
journalists.  A recent article in the NYTimes (and
The American Political Science Review)
demonstrates how political scientists reached into biology and genetic
research to tease out some insights into political attitudes and

See the NYT write-up, “
Some Politics May Be Etched in the Genes” and the original article, “Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?

Abstract: “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.”

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