Genetic and Environmental Transmission of Value Orientations: A New Twin Study of Political Attitudes
29 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 1 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2009
Recent analyses of twin study data find evidence for a sizeable heritable component of liberal-conservative ideological orientations. Those findings are largely based on a single index of ideological orientations, the Wilson-Patterson scale, created from attitude positions across a large number of issue-of-the-day items. The underlying assumption of these studies, particularly Alford, Funk and Hibbing (2005), is not that attitudes on specific issues are heritable, but that issue positions reflect a set of heritable core value orientations. This paper reports results from a new twin study of adults in the U.S. which allows us to directly test this assumption. The survey was funded by the National Science Foundation and included more than 1100 twins from the University of Minnesota twin registry. It is the first survey of its kind dedicated to a detailed assessment of the political attitudes and value orientations of twins and includes a new index of bedrock social orientations. Here, we test the degree to which genetic and environmental factors influence these social orientations and compare these findings with similar analyses on the Wilson-Patterson index of liberal-conservative ideological orientation, self-identified ideology, right-wing authoritarianism, and egalitarianism.
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