Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Twin Analyses of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Democraciesand Genome-Wide Findings from Three Populations
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
Show others and affiliations
2014 (English)In: Behavior Genetics, ISSN 1573-3297, E-ISSN 1573-3297, Vol. 44, no 3, 282-294 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Almost 40 years ago, evidence from large studies of adult twins and their relatives suggested that between 30 and 60 % of the variance in social and political attitudes could be explained by genetic influences. However, these findings have not been widely accepted or incorporated into the dominant paradigms that explain the etiology of political ideology. This has been attributed in part to measurement and sample limitations, as well the relative absence of molecular genetic studies. Here we present results from original analyses of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five democracies, sampled over the course of four decades. We provide evidence that genetic factors play a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the era, or the population sampled. The only exception is a question that explicitly uses the phrase “Left–Right”. We then present results from one of the first genome-wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples: a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individuals from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families. No polymorphisms reached genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects and it will require extremely large samples to have enough power in order to identify specific polymorphisms related to complex social traits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 44, no 3, 282-294 p.
Keyword [en]
Ideology, Genetics, Attitudes, Authoritarianism
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-191343DOI: 10.1007/s10519-014-9648-8ISI: 000336366100010OAI: diva2:585404
Nature, nurture, and political orientations
Swedish Research Council, 2009-1713
Available from: 2013-01-10 Created: 2013-01-10 Last updated: 2014-08-20Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(551 kB)7 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 551 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Oskarsson, Sven
By organisation
Department of Government
In the same journal
Behavior Genetics
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 7 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 384 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link