Data employed in this project were collected with the financial support of the National Science Foundation in the form of SES-0721378, PI: John R. Hibbing; Co-PIs: John R. Alford, Lindon J. Eaves, Carolyn L. Funk, Peter K. Hatemi, and Kevin B. Smith, and with the cooperation of the Minnesota Twin Registry at the University of Minnesota, Robert Krueger and Matthew McGue, Directors.
Biology, Ideology, and Epistemology: How Do We Know Political Attitudes Are Inherited and Why Should We Care?
Article first published online: 28 NOV 2011
© 2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 56, Issue 1, pages 17–33, January 2012
How to Cite
Smith, K., Alford, J. R., Hatemi, P. K., Eaves, L. J., Funk, C. and Hibbing, J. R. (2012), Biology, Ideology, and Epistemology: How Do We Know Political Attitudes Are Inherited and Why Should We Care?. American Journal of Political Science, 56: 17–33. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00560.x
- Issue published online: 17 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 28 NOV 2011
Evidence that political attitudes and behavior are in part biologically and even genetically instantiated is much discussed in political science of late. Yet the classic twin design, a primary source of evidence on this matter, has been criticized for being biased toward finding genetic influence. In this article, we employ a new data source to test empirically the alternative, exclusively environmental, explanations for ideological similarities between twins. We find little support for these explanations and argue that even if we treat them as wholly correct, they provide reasons for political science to pay more rather than less attention to the biological basis of attitudes and behaviors. Our analysis suggests that the mainstream socialization paradigm for explaining attitudes and behaviors is not necessarily incorrect but is substantively incomplete.