The Heritability of Partisan Attachment
Political Research Quarterly, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2008 Last revised: 26 Sep 2008
Date Written: April 5, 2008
One of the strongest regularities in the empirical political science literature is the well-known correlation in parent and child partisan behavior. Until recently this phenomenon was thought to result solely from parental socialization, but new evidence on genetic sources of behavior suggests it might also be due to heritability. In this article we hypothesize that genes contribute to variation in a general tendency toward strength of partisanship. Using data collected at the Twins Days Festival, we compare the similarity of partisan strength in identical twins who share all of their genes to the similarity of partisan strength in non-identical twins who share only half of their genes. The results show that heritability accounts for almost half of the variance in strength of partisan attachment, and they suggest that we should pay closer attention to the role of biology in the expression of important political behaviors.
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